Sticking together

Just some of the amazing people who work with seabirds up and down the country

Thursday 23rd June comments: Seabird colonies are incredible places; the sights, sounds and smells (!) make them one of most awe-inspiring places to visit in the natural world as birds occupy every available nesting site from rocks at the cliff base to the grassy slopes at the top. The U.K. is blessed by having some of the very best seabird cities in the world and they are amazing places which attack all senses; if you’ve never been to one just go and see it for yourself.

These wonderful places also offer the opportunity for people to live and work with seabirds; helping to protect, conserve and enhance these birds whilst also offering the opportunity to study and research them. The Isle of May is no different as we have national nature reserve staff and volunteers from NatureScot alongside researchers from various different organisations. At this time of year we are extremely busy but in recent weeks this has started to change and it is for one very good reason; avian influenza.

Avian influenza was first detected in Great Skuas last summer and has since swept down the east coast as large numbers of Northern Gannets have died and now the terrible disease is jumping across to other species with Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Terns and Eiders all suffering. What will happen next is anyone’s guess but the outlook looks bleak for the foreseeable future.

Whilst the birds suffer and birds welfare comes first, it’s also a very difficult time for those who work, watch and study them and in some cases it’s been a lifetime of blood sweat and tears. On a personal note, for someone who has worked with seabirds for 22 years it is devastating to sit back and watch the events unfold, feeling almost helpless to prevent the outcome. There are many good people working, studying, watching and enjoying seabirds up and down the country and like all, I hope this passes quickly. The timing of this could not be any worse as we have just come off the back of Covid-19, so I will give a big shout out to all those people involved; stay strong, stick together and we’ll get through this but be warned, I think we are in for a bumpy ride…     

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