We can only help support Wales’ birds if we understand where and how they live. Conservation work based on well-disseminated, good quality research work is crucial, and we are fortunate in the UK that such activities are undertaken by both professional organisations and expert, unpaid volunteers. In 2017, grants have been awarded to two projects that are working to help Wales’ birds. The results of these projects will appear in future issues of our journal, Birds in Wales.
Project: Tracking Bardsey Island’s Manx Shearwaters
Recipient: Ben Porter (£480)
Purpose: to determine where Bardsey Island’s Manx Shearwaters forage during periods of incubation and chick-rearing; to assess how closely these foraging areas overlap with that of other colonies in the Irish Sea; and to assess whether chick growth rates vary within Bardsey’s colony and compared to Skomer’s population.
Ben hopes to deploy 20-30 tags (12 paid for by WOS) on birds during summer 2017. The aim is to document the foraging trips of at least 10 incubating adult birds and 10 provisioning adults. Data analysis will be carried out over the following Winter, with the studies’ findings evaluated in a dissertation write-up as part of his third-year research project at Exeter University.
Building up a greater picture of Bardsey’s Manx Shearwater feeding patterns will help in targeting those locations at sea most productive and important for seabird foraging. These feeding areas may be of high significance for the survival of populations of both shearwaters and other pelagic species. Acquisition of sufficient information might enable consideration of important areas being incorporated into new Marine Conservation or No Take Zones as part of the government’s commitment to greatly increase the protection of UK waters.
Project: Monitoring Schedule 1 birds in Wales
Recipient: Robin Sandham (£418)
Purpose: Monitor a known site where humans have previously interfered with the nest of a Schedule 1 breeding bird.
Nest-recorders have been monitoring a small population of a Schedule 1 breeding species for the past 3 years. During 2016 a nest being monitored was illegally interfered with, but without evidence, the police were unable to pursue the matter.
Robin is working with the local police to increase the protection given to the birds, and the surveillance of the area. For obvious reasons, WOS is not naming the species, the location or the precise nature of the surveillance equipment being deployed.