The Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project has installed nest boxes on some of St Agnes’ boulder beaches, to help one of England’s rarest seabirds.
Staff and volunteers working on the project hope the nest boxes will encourage Storm Petrels, and make it easier to monitor the birds’ breeding success later in the autumn.
Storm Petrels, about the size of a sparrow, and which spend most of their lives at sea, are extremely rare in England, confined entirely to the South West. They returned to breed on St Agnes and Gugh for the first time in living memory last year, following the successful eradication of rats from both islands.
St Agnes and Gugh officially rat-free after last rat was spotted in November 2013
Rats first appeared on the islands following shipwrecks in the 1700s
Rats would attack the eggs and helpless young of nesting seabirds on the islands
Bird populations already starting to recover following year on year declines for 25 years
Jaclyn Pearson, the RSPB’s Isles of Scilly Sea Bird Recovery Project manager, said: “We thank the volunteers involved in making and placing the nest boxes on St Agnes and Gugh. We have recently started monitoring this year’s Storm Petrel chicks, so it’s an exciting time. One of the best things about this project is to know the hard work of so many people has opened up habitat on St Agnes and Gugh, where these amazing seabirds can breed in safety without their eggs or young being eaten by rats.”
This summer the project team and the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust joined forces to deliver ‘Storm Petrel games’ at the islands popular summer fetes, raising more than £300 towards seabird conservation. And this month members of the community are joining ‘chick-check walks’ so they will be able to record where the chicks of various seabird species will be fledging, and will be able to continue monitoring them for years to come.
Nikki Banfield, of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, said: “These activities ensured that every member of the family was able to learn about how the project is helping seabirds, including the Storm Petrels, and what they themselves can do to help. We thank everyone who came along to support the cause, and thank you for all the great feedback about the fun that was had playing the ‘find the Storm Petrel map game’ and the ‘Storm Petrel bucket game’.”