|A common sight along the beaches of the east coast; a dead Puffin (Dawn Minto)|
|Yet another casualty (Dawn Minto)|
|Snow on the islands...the extreme weather continues|
Tuesday 26th March comments: Over the last 24 hours we’ve been receiving reports from up and down the east coast of dead seabirds washing ashore on beaches from as far away as Scarborough and Aberdeen. Since Sunday 17th March a complex weather system has produced strong easterly winds (gale force most days) producing heavy seas and sub-zero temperatures.
The timing could not be any worse, as thousands of seabirds have returned to the southern North Sea to prepare for the new breeding season at colonies like the Farne Islands. Unfortunately this prolonged weather has made feeding difficult and low temperatures have added to the seabird’s woes.
The result is that thin birds, starving, are succumbing to the elements and are now washing ashore along our beaches with the onshore winds. However the picture is slightly clouded as seabirds experience natural winter mortality and unlike recent years, the onshore winds are bringing these birds ashore.
However it’s becoming clear that the weather is having ‘an above average impact’ on our seabirds. Interestingly we are seeing seabirds still in winter plumage around the Farnes, suggesting that their bodies are not up to breeding conditions as moult is delayed.
In summary, the effect of this winter ‘wreck’ may not be known until the vital population counts are made this summer to establish what impact, if any, this weather really has had on our seabirds.
On a final note, many thanks to all the contributors who reported corpses along the beaches of the east coast, especially via Twitter. Without these records, we wouldn’t know the scale of the problem. Thank-you to all and to Dawn Minto for the photos.