As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Crowdsourcing funds long-term seabird study

In the space of just two weeks, zoology professor reaches crowd-funded target to maintain his long-term study of guillemots on Skomer

“The whole crowdsourcing experience has been exhilarating,” says Tim Birkhead, professor of behavioural ecology at the University of Sheffield. “I want to say an enormous thank you to everyone who has donated to my guillemot monitoring research on Skomer,” he wrote last week in an update to his JustGiving page as he reached his crowd-funded target of £12,000. This is enough to keep the project going for one more year until a more stable source of funding can be found.

Birkhead began working on guillemots on Skomer in 1972, for his PhD. Every year since, he has been back to collect data from several breeding colonies on the island. But in 2013, the Countryside Council for Wales(which had been supporting the project) was taken over by Natural Resources Wales and funding was discontinued.

In February this year, winter storms made it difficult for guillemots and other seabirds to feed, resulting in the death of some 40,000 ocean-going birds. With the “seabird wreck” making the case for the guillemot study even more compelling, Birkhead wrote to NRW’s chief executive Emyr Roberts in March asking him once more to reconsider the decision to withdraw funding but says he has received no reply. “They should have taken responsibility, and reinstated the funding so the full impact of the wreck could have been evaluated.”

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