Tideline Tragedy


Tideline Tragedy; a dead Puffin


Wednesday 7th March comments: The Isle of May, like the entire east coast, has been battered by easterly storms bringing low temperatures and snow drifts to the island. However at what cost to seabirds?

In March 2013, almost three weeks of onshore easterly winds seriously effected seabirds with many birds perishing of apparent starvation as they struggled to feed in such turbulent conditions. These ‘wrecks’ are not uncommon but in 2013 it involved a plethora of species as birds were returning to breeding grounds at the same time and were caught up in the hard hitting weather. In other words it was extremely bad timing; vast numbers of birds returning to breeding grounds just when a continued easterly storm raged resulting in high mortality.

In recent weeks we’ve been receiving the same weather systems, but has it been similar? As expected we are receiving reports of dead birds washed ashore along the east coast but thankfully not on the epic scale of 2013. Even then this may just involve birds washing ashore that are part of the ‘usual winter mortality’ (onshore winds will bring any dead birds ashore) although without doubt some will be have been effected by the recent weather.

However two things going in their favour this time is that the bad weather hit earlier (many seabirds are still away on wintering grounds) and its not been to prolonged. So fingers crossed it’s not as bad as March 2013. Over the next few weeks we’ll (SNH and our friends at CEH) will peace together the picture to see what, if any lasting damage this has caused. Fingers crossed it’s not bad news…

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