A special place... The Isles of Scilly are one of only two places in England where Manx Shearwaters breed
Under threat...The Isles of Scilly hold 3,000 fewer pairs of breeding seabirds than 25 years ago
We need YOUR help to protect our important seabird heritage
Isles of Scilly storm petrels helped by nest boxes, games and ‘chick-check walks’
The Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project has installed nest boxes on some of St Agnes’ boulder beaches, to help one of England’s rarest seabirds.
Staff and volunteers working on the project hope the nest boxes will encourage storm petrels, and make it easier to monitor the birds’ breeding success later in the autumn.
Storm petrels, about the size of a sparrow, and which spend most of their lives at sea, are extremely rare in England, confined entirely to the South West. They returned to breed on St Agnes and Gugh for the first time in living memory last year, following the successful eradication of rats from both islands.
Jaclyn Pearson, the RSPB’s Isles of Scilly Sea Bird Recovery Project manager, said: “We thank the volunteers involved in making and placing the nest boxes on St Agnes and Gugh. We have recently started monitoring this year’s storm petrel chicks, so it’s an exciting time. One of the best things about this project is to know the hard work of so many people has opened up habitat on St Agnes and Gugh, where these amazing seabirds can breed in safety without their eggs or young being eaten by rats.”
This summer the project team and the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust joined forces to deliver ‘storm petrel games’ at the islands popular summer fetes, raising more than £300 towards seabird conservation. And this month members of the community are joining ‘chick-check walks’ so they will be able to record where the chicks of various seabird species will be fledging, and will be able to continue monitoring them for years to come.
Nikki Banfield, of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, said: “These activities ensured that every member of the family was able to learn about how the project is helping seabirds, including the storm petrels, and what they themselves can do to help. We thank everyone who came along to support the cause, and thank you for all the great feedback about the fun that was had playing the ‘find the storm petrel map game’ and the ‘storm petrel bucket game’.”
Naomi Stratton, land management lead advisor for Natural England, said: “It was a privilege to join a community ‘chick-check walk’ recently and I was delighted to see Manx shearwater chicks starting to venture outside their burrows before migration. It is great to see bird activity on these protected sites increasing, and the local community so involved with the project.”
If anybody thinks they have seen a rat on St Agnes or Gugh they should call the project’s ‘Rat on a Rat’ hotline on 01720 422153. The project team and islanders will then inspect the area and set up surveillance and rat incursion response measures.
This Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Natural England and the Duchy of Cornwall. The project is funded by LIFE, the EU’s programme for financing key environmental schemes across the continent, and a £269,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
For further information, images, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Chris Baker, RSPB Communications Officer, 01392 453299 / 07701 050010
The Heritage Lottery Fund invests money from the National Lottery to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet, to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. More information at: www.hlf.org.uk
Full details of the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project can be found at www.ios-seabirds.org.uk