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
Last week, whilst holidaying on the Isles of Scilly, I took time out to volunteer for a day with the IOS Seabird Recovery Project. Over the past few years I’ve visited the Isles on several occasions, and been captivated by the amazing birdlife. I was therefore thrilled to be given the opportunity to visit the staff, discover more about the Project, and gain some valuable ‘hands on’ experience.
After a friendly welcome from Lydia and Holly, they introduced me to the Project. They explained that my job for the afternoon would be to assist with the analysis of pitfall traps from Bryher. The ecology of St.Agnes is being examined to look at how it has changed, post rat removal. As Bryher is similar in terms of habitat to St. Agnes, it provides a useful ‘control’ in the study eg in one sample analysis of sandhoppers, there were less than 500 sandhoppers on Brhyer whereas on St. Agnes there were approximately 2000.
My task involved counting and sorting the contents of traps from the heathland habitat of Bryher. This was a new experience for me, but under the expert tuition of Lydia and Holly I soon understood what to do, using tweezers to pick out individual specimens from the preserved contents, and meticulously place them on a grid. As I concentrated on the task, I became completely absorbed in the process, and found some exciting bugs such as a species of parasitic (ichneumonid) wasp: the females have a very long ovipositor which they use to lay eggs inside or on their invertebrate host, such as a caterpillar, and then proceed to eat it alive!!
It was a great way to spend an afternoon: I developed my ID skills, enjoyed meeting with Lydia and Holly and sharing their knowledge, and felt good about making a small contribution to this amazing Project.