Variation in Herring Gull colony sizes

  In Britain and Ireland we are fortunate to have data on bird populations going back decades. For seabirds, the first national breeding census was Operation Seafarer, carried out in 1969, which aimed to count all coastal colonies across Britain and Ireland. This was followed by the Seabird Colony Register between 1985 and 1988, and then Seabird…

Scottish Gannets and plastic nests

Several seabird species are known to incorporate anthropogenic debris/plastic into their nests, particularly those that build substantial surface nests such as the Northern Gannet and European Shag. However, recent work collating what we currently know about seabirds and plastic in the northeastern Atlantic revealed how little quantitative information has been published on nest incorporation of debris….

Winter Finland Birding

Rob Hughes and Nina O’Hanlon Total trip species: 25 Friday 9th March    Day 1: 9 species After arriving in Kuusamo late the evening before (and finding out that we didn’t actually have a hire car to get around) we spent the morning walking around the frozen, snow covered Lake Toranki. The surrounding woodland areas…

Birding North Goa

Rob Hughes and Nina O’Hanlon (pictures and text from both!) Total trip species: 249 Saturday 11th November     Day 1: 39 species We arrived into Dabolim airport about 10 am India time. After spending quite a while getting through passport control and the visa checks we started the one hour bus transfer to our hotel,…

Seabirds and marine plastic debris

Recently I have been involved in a project, as part of Circular Ocean, to establish what we currently know about seabirds and marine plastic in the northeastern Atlantic. Marine plastic pollution is huge global environmental issue, which can pose a major threat to all marine species from mussels and fish to dolphins and seals. Seabirds are…

Waterbirds Conference and Iceland

In early August the annual meeting of The Waterbird Society was held at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. Apart from being apprehensive about co-organising a gull symposium and giving two talks I was quite excited. It was my first trip to Iceland and it’s a place I have wanted to visit for a while. I…

More Tysties and a trip to North Ron BO

After a week back in the office I was excited to head back out to Stroma and see how things were getting on! It was a lot quieter – the Snipe and Skylarks were still displaying away and the Oystercatchers and Redshank would still alarm as you wandered past but it was much less intense….

But what is best for the gulls?

Food and resources in a changed environment (as published on the University of Glasgow Naturally Speaking blog – edited by Karen Hotopp) Take a trip to a coastal town and you will likely encounter some scavenging gulls. Here in the UK, these will most probably be herring or lesser black-backed gulls, both of which are…

Tystie fieldwork on Stroma

Last week I had the privilege of staying on the uninhabited island of Stroma, just off the north Caithness coast, to help ERI colleagues, Daniel Johnston and Elizabeth Masden, with their Tystie (Black Guillemot) fieldwork. The weather was mixed, with super high tides and up to gale force nine winds at the start of the…

Winter in the Highlands

Since moving up to Thurso last October, I have loved living at the top of Scotland, especially seeing the sea everyday! And, over the past few weeks, I have particularly enjoyed the Highlands wildness and winter birds. The weekend before last we had a ‘work’ trip to the west coast around Lochinver, where we had…

Calf of Man Bird Obs

The best part of carrying out my Masters project (way back in 2011) on the Calf of Man was getting to spend seven weeks on a stunning island in the Irish Sea.  It was also my first experience of a Bird Observatory and I absolutely loved it.  It is not the most typical of Bird…

Investigating Brown Rat predation of seabird eggs

During my Masters at the University of York, I carried out a research project on the Calf of Man in collaboration with FERA (now APHA – Animal and Plant Health Agency).  The aim of the project was to determine whether the non-native Brown Rat was affecting the island’s seabirds, specifically the Manx Shearwater.   Historically, the Calf…