The Shags

Ed Shag

One of this years broods doing well – Ed Thomson


Shag head

A stunning adult with it’s ‘shaggy’ crest

Saturday 2nd July comments: It is another tale of decline I’m afraid this evening.  The Shag population on the May has fallen, with a 13% drop to 349 pairs breeding on the island this year.  Like the Kittiwake, the Shag population has fluctuated over the years; the highest recorded number was back in 1987 when 1,916 pairs bred on the island and the lowest in 1999 when only 259 pairs were noted.

The Shag is an inshore species that never strays too far from land.  Whereas the majority of our other breeding seabirds take to the ocean or on long migrations, these birds spend the winter around the waters of the UK, some roosting in the same spot year on year.

There have been a few winter wrecks of Shags over the years, with many being found washed up dead along the coast, dramatically decreasing the breeding populations for the following season.  The cause of the wrecks is due to prolonged winter storms and with more extreme weather patterns this could become a frequent occurrence.   The UK holds 34% of the worlds Shag population and it is essential we continue to protect the island and make changes to slow down the climate change so that these reptilian-like birds are still here in the future.

It is not all doom and gloom this year and some species have seen an increase in numbers, come back later in the week to find out more.

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