Saturday, 25 April 2015

Help us create a safer home for seabirds on the Shiant Isles.

JUST 51 PENCE CAN MAKE A SQUARE METRE SAFER FOR SEABIRDS ON THE SHIANTS, in total there are 2,200,000 square metres to be cleared of rats.
Puffins and Razorbills Shiants - RSPB image J Richardson

Situated in the stormy seas off the Outer Hebrides, the Shiants are a noisy, sea-salty breeding ground in the Atlantic where seabirds raise their young.
The isles are already home to 10 per cent of the UK population of puffins, and seven per cent of our razorbills.
But there could be many, many more.
Year after year, significant numbers of Shiant Isle seabird chicks are killed by non-native black rats.
Black rat
But with your help we'll remove the rats for good so that the full potential of the islands' seabirds can finally be realised.

What we'll be doing

With your support we can restore and secure seabird populations on these amazing islands.
We aim to remove the rats in time for the summer 2016 seabird breeding season and every one after that. 
The entire project will cost £1.13 million and we have secured 70 per cent of the total cost from the EU LIFE+ fund, Scottish Natural Heritage and major private donors to the RSPB.
But your support is critical to get us over the finish line. We need £345,000 before 18 May this year to get to work.
Fortunately, we don't have to imagine the impact of removing rats from the isles as we've witnessed similar projects around the UK and the globe. Likely consequences include:
A dramatic benefit to seabird populations. The populations of puffins, razorbills, guillemots and shags - species struggling around the UK - will raise more chicks. Removing the rats from the island of Lundy, off the coast of Devon, saw Manx shearwater numbers increase tenfold and there are now four times as many puffins.
The return of Manx shearwaters to the islands. We've found Manx shearwater bones on the Shiants, which strongly indicates that they once bred there. But they simply won't return as long as the rats remain. We have to remove the rats now, or Manx shearwaters and other species like storm petrels will never come back.
A significant boost for the islands' small populations of other ground-nesting birds. Twites, oystercatchers, skylarks, wheatears and curlews should also benefit once they can breed safe from rat predation. Your donation will help secure their future.
After studying all the options, specialists concluded that the only safe and effective way to eradicate the rats is to lay poison in bait stations around the islands for them to consume. The operation will take place in winter, when the rat population is at its lowest and most of the seabirds are away feeding at sea. Careful measures will be used to reduce the risks to all the other wildlife on the islands.
By next summer the rats should be gone. But our project will continue for another three years, doing all we can to stop rats returning; monitoring how the seabirds fare in their safer island home and encouraging species like Manx shearwaters to return.
Can you help us save the seabirds of the Shiant Isles?

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Friday, 24 April 2015

BEEKIND- be Bee friendly

Bee kind

How Bee kind is your garden?

Bumblebees rely on particular flowers for food throughout the year. By using our Bee kind tool, you can discover whether the flowers in your garden are bee­‐friendly.
Once you know how your garden scores, we can recommend some other flowers that you may want to plant – to really get your garden buzzing!
You can also add your Bee kind score to our map – to help us get a clear picture of bee-­friendly gardens across the country.
Bee  on Ragwort

2 to look out for

Ged Gorman and RSPB Liverpool's away team!

For those of you who will be at the BRITISH BIRDFAIR this August...
Our friend and tour guide Ged Gorman has been  allocated a slot for his talk ‘ WORLD WIDE WOODPECKERS’, on Friday August 21st, Lecture Marquee 2, from 11.30am.

Roy taylor
Remember Roy – My aching muscles do, but  what  a good cause!

The most important thing to promote in the region this week is Countryfile on Sunday, which features a story about RSPB reserve manager Roy Taylor. Filmed at Dove Stone it deals with disabled access to the countryside and looks at Dove Stone.  

BBC Countryfile: Tune into @BBCOne at 7pm Sun 26 April to  hear RSPB reserve manager Roy Taylor’s inspirational story

Friday, 10 April 2015

A few words for the RSPB blog - Hilbre Haze

On Sunday I met up the MNA group for an early start on the slipway at West Kirby for 09:15hrs and the small group then walked over to Hilbre Island  for a high tide stay-over, which took us about 3/4 hr to walk across the sands to the bird reserve.

There was little wind which didn't dissipate the localised sea mist which hung around all day but did make an effort to lift for a while during our stay.
While there we saw quite a few small migrating birds that had stopped off for a rest and a quick feed. Also a few nosy Grey seals were seen bobbing up and down around the island just keeping an eye on us.
The usual wading birds were seen and a flotilla of Brent geese majestically passed the island at one point. Through the mist we could just see a few hundred common Scoters which looked like a large oil slick, as there was that many of them.

The volunteer bird recorder who had set caged traps around the island had caught several small birds in them and brought them over in soft white bags to show them to us. Pointing out the feather length differences between a first year bird and an adult bird returning from Africa. He blew onto the bird's chest feathers to separate them, for us to see how much yellow fat was left through their thin skin after their long journey.

Among these birds were a small Gold Crest, a Wheatear, which had stunning feather plumage.
We were allowed to watch him ringing, measuring, weighing and recording the birds statistics into his log, which would then be transferred onto a national computer data base. So that the individual ring identification numbers can quickly be accessed and can make a data comparison. 
One that he had just caught in a mist net had flown all the way from Africa ... which is just amazing when you come to think about it. As these birds only weigh a few grams. 
It was around 16:00hrs when the tide had receded sufficiently enough for us to walk back across the sand to Hoylake.
The mist rolled in even thicker, so i just followed the tracks in the wet sand of the vehicles that had driven to and from the island after the tide had receded.

The visitors who were still on the island and those returning to the mainland, got caught out by the mist, which was very disorientating and had to call the RNLI life guard for help, who fortunately was at hand and parked up on the island on his quad bike. He sounded his horn so they could get a bearing on him and to follow him back to the mainland ... 

As soon as i drove away from the coast and onto the M53 Wirral motorway to return back home. The sun was cracking the flags and had been a warm summer's day by all accounts.
A lovely day was had by all, disregarding the sea mist but seeing those lovely birds close up was a real treat.

Neil ............