Tuesday 11th August comments: The Shag population on the May shows a pattern of general decline from the 1,600 pairs that bred in the early 1990’s and certainly wasn’t helped by a big winter crash in 2012/13, which saw many dead along the coast of the UK and their wintering grounds. 2013 was one of the lowest counts of pairs in history, when only 322 pairs bred. However, with an increase in 2014 to 338 pairs and another increase this season to 401 pairs, hopefully the numbers are heading the back in the right direction.
These birds often feed on the lower levels on the ocean and winter storms that churn up the sea floor mean it can be much harder to find food. This on top of cold weather and high winds can lead to starvation and death. A good percentage of the Shags on the Isle of May are colour ringed as part of a study looking into their winter survival and dispersal from colonies. Hopefully this project will continue to help us gain an insight into our breeding Shag population.