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Thread: Scotlandís Seabird Numbers Stabilising

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Wick, Caithness

    Default Scotlandís Seabird Numbers Stabilising

    A new report by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) reveals that Scotlandís seabird numbers appear to be levelling off, after a steady period of decline since 2000.

    Between 1986 and 2009, the number of seabirds in Scotland has fluctuated, but declined overall by 28 percent. Now, a recent study confirms that overall numbers may have stabilised since 2007.

    The decrease was likely due to food shortages, weather conditions and predation by non-native species such as brown rats and mink. A likely major cause was a drop in the number of small fish, such as sandeels, which are an important food source for many seabirds. These fish are probably being affected by rising sea temperatures because of climate change, as well as other factors.

    A range of measures has been put in place to help combat pressures on the seabirds. Voluntary reduction in sandeel fisheries means that very little if any sandeel fishing now takes place within foraging range of kittiwakes, a species which, in recent years, has seen a particularly sharp drop in numbers. Intensive trapping and removal of non-native predators, such as the brown rat and the American mink, has also been carried out on various parts of the Scottish coastline and islands and is now starting to show some benefits, with terns recolonising some areas.

    The Scottish Governmentís recent Marine Bill also includes measures to improve marine nature conservation to safeguard and protect Scotlandís unique habitats.

    Andy Douse, SNH ornithologist, said:ďThe apparent halt of the decline since 2007 is encouraging. This may be an early sign that the various measures, and a lot of effort from many different people and groups across Scotland, have made a difference to seabird populations which are possibly beginning to stabilise. However, it is too early to say for sure that seabird numbers have stopped declining. Some sites in Scotland, particularly in the Northern Isles and some east coast colonies, have continued to decline. The data from the next few years will help us to better understand the changes.

    ďThanks to the huge effort from volunteers and professionals, we are now able to monitor seabird numbers much more effectively than in the past, and respond quickly when action is needed.Ē

    Scotlandís seabirds are internationally important with around four million breeding seabirds of 24 species. The recent drop in numbers follows two decades of occasional years of poor breeding Ė but poor years have happened more often and with more severity since 2000.
    For more information:

    The Scottish Seabird Indicator is part of a suite of biodiversity indicators which are used to assess the state of Scotlandís biodiversity.

    For more detailed information, seeSeabird Populations and Causes of Change: 2010 Report at Led by JNCC, the UK Seabird Monitoring Programme (SMP) collects and collates data on seabirds across the UK. Data from the Republic of Ireland is also collated, to set the results in a wider geographical context.

    The following organisations are partners with JNCC in the SMP: BirdWatch Ireland; The British Trust for Ornithology; Centre for Ecology & Hydrology; Countryside Council for Wales; Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (Isle of Man); Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Republic of Ireland); States of Guernsey Government; Manx Birdlife; Manx National Heritage; The National Trust; National Trust for Scotland; Natural England; Northern Ireland Environment Agency; The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; Scottish Natural Heritage; Seabird Group; Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group; Scottish Wildlife Trust.

    Scottish Natural Heritage is the governmentís advisor on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value, and enjoy Scotlandís nature now and in the future. For further information on SNH, please visit our website at

    The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity, conserving geological features and sustaining natural systems. JNCC delivers the UK and international responsibilities of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage.
    Visit the website at$$/

    2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. For more information, see or

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002


    Thanks Bill, very interesting reading.
    Must be down to the bird cake I make each day!

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by LIZZ View Post
    Thanks Bill, very interesting reading.
    Must be down to the bird cake I make each day!
    would love to be able to feed the birds. Shortly after moving here and feeding the birds we also found we had certain visitors that we did not want. We have therefore stopped feeding the birds and any other creature who had joined in.

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