|Two dead Shags on Inner Farne last week|
|Will our breeding population drop?|
Sunday 3rd March comments: In mid-January news was filtering through of a worrying Shag ‘wreck’ along the north-east coast of Scotland. Numbers found dead along the shorelines included 100 in Fraserburgh alone and dozens at Burghead on the Moray coast. As expected, ringed birds were discovered amongst the corpses and small numbers of Farne birds were involved.
Following last weeks visit to the Farnes, two adults were discovered on the small beach on Inner Farne and reports have been received from other Northumberland coastal sites including nearby Coquet Island. It appears the ‘wreck’ has covered a wider area of the east coast than originally considered and the impact on the breeding stock will only be known following this summer’s population counts.
This type of winter mortality is not unprecedented, as the Farnes have been affected twice in the last twenty years (1993 and 2004) and on both occasions, the breeding population dropped the following summer. The main reason for this winter mortality follows extreme onshore winds and torrential rain during the winter, when large numbers of Shags move into harbours for shelter, but many still succumb to the conditions.
It’s a tough life being a seabird and we’ll bring you more information when we have it on the scale and the knock-on effects of this ‘wreck’.