Everyone loves puffins, but what about the other birds on the island? Each species has a unique set of characteristics that give it a charm of its own. The tough little razorbills look like bouncers at a nightclub, whilst the kittiwakes are busy little socialites often seen in groups, collecting mud and grass for their nests, or bathing together in the loch. The shag, however is the king (or queen) of interior decorating! Not one to be content with a bare ledge or a standard nest like other seabirds, shags have an eye for the unusual. Although their main nesting materials are sticks and seaweed, they often amuse us with their little flourishes. Anything ‘stick-like’ seems to attract their attention, with garden canes, cutlery and paintbrushes (unfortunately for the contractors who were painting the Low Light) being prominently displayed. Others appear to have an eye for colour, using different pieces of old rope to produce a bold rainbow effect to their (not-so) humble abode. Among the more unusual items are: a doll, some garden hose, a toy lobster and a padlock! Carrie and Katherine, two of the seabird researchers, have provided the pictures for today’s blog – see if you can spot the unusual things these birds have been attracted to.
Although this is a light-hearted look at bird behaviour, there is a serious note to this blog. Human behaviour has a huge impact on the world around us and the animals that live in it. The items incorporated in these shag nests are a sobering reminder of the rubbish that finds its way into our seas and onto our beaches. It is estimated that one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals die each year from swallowing, or getting entangled in, plastic. Do your bit to help save these animals by making sure you recycle and dispose of your rubbish responsibly.
Paula (summer volunteer)