Star Shag!


Continental Shag…for its ninth winter (per Mark Newell)


Shag map

Far away from the Isle of May…. (per Mark Newell)


Friday 26th January comments: (Isle of May NNR). Following on from yesterday’s blog from Mark at CEH he further reveals more information about this winters Shag movements including one individual which has become a bit of a celebrity…

As we as the Isle of May, Shags from other colonies are also colour ringed to help us with our studies of this charismatic seabird. News has filtered out that a bird on Inchkeith, another of the Forth islands, went even further inland along the Dutch-German border. Blue colour ringed ‘FWA’ was only the third ever record of a Shag in the province of Overjissel (previous sightings in 1905 & 1996) and caused quite a stir in the local media and even has its own youtube footage which can be viewed here: .  These latter sightings are especially notable as shags are marine species and, unlike cormorants, don’t normally inhabit freshwater.

Given our previous data it is clear that the vast majority of these long distance wanderers are birds in their first-winter and are almost never seen again in subsequent seasons. This leads to speculation that they either find under-watched colonies or don’t make it through their first winter.  The exception to this is Blue colour ringed ‘ZBU’ which is a nine year old male, which breeds every year on the Isle of May but winters near Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  After a blank winter last year it was seen again in the Netherlands in late December.

All these extra-limital sightings are valuable in providing a better understanding of the movements of the shag populations and prove it is worth checking out these seabirds for colour rings no matter where they occur. Please send any sightings (dead or alive) to  as all data is valuable and helps pull together a better understanding of these birds. So keep those eyes peeled!

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