• Please be aware that avian influenza has been confirmed in the Western Isles. Great Skua and Gannet are the worst affected currently but a range of other bird species can be infected. Please avoid contact with dead birds, give sick and dying birds space, keep dogs on leads and report all instances of five or more dead birds of one species to Defra (03459 335577).

  • When here in the Outer Hebrides and looking at a bird, have you ever wondered how rare it is? The status of all species can vary enormously from island to island. How rare is Shoveler on Barra, has Stock Dove been seen on Harris, does Dotterel occur on Benbecula in the autumn, and how common is Blue Tit on North Uist? Well, fret no longer! The Status and Distribution of birds here on the Outer Hebrides has been completely updated and summarised for every species and each of the main islands and outliers. Available as an online resource at https://status.outerhebrides-birdreports.org/ or via our shop

    New - now available as an ebook

Course JNCC/CalMac seabird survey training opportunities

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JNCC/CalMac seabird survey training opportunities

CalMac Ferries initiated it’s Marine Awareness Program in 2017 to bring partners together to raise awareness of the marine environment in the West of Scotland. As part of this program, CalMac ferries will be used as platforms for collecting seabird and cetacean survey data to standard methods. Volunteer cetacean surveys, managed by ORCA, are up and running, and JNCC are developing a volunteer seabird survey scheme in partnership with MARINElife, which will launch in 2019. Both schemes will generate data that will feed into long term datasets for seabirds and cetaceans, that will shed light on the abundance, distribution and phenology of birds and marine mammals that use the seas off western Scotland. The seabird surveys will be led by mentors, who will work with volunteers to ensure high quality data are collected, while developing volunteers survey and data recording skills. Those who take part in the scheme will be able to volunteer for surveys on a variety of CalMac routes, receiving free passage and the opportunity to observe some of western Scotland’s iconic marine wildlife. Mentors will receive free European Seabirds at Sea (ESAS) training. ESAS is the standard methodology for scientific and commercial boat-based seabird surveys across Europe.

JNCC are offering spaces on three training courses for volunteers for the seabird survey scheme.

Mentor training: Provisionally Oban during the week starting August 20th.

JNCC are looking for competent birders and/or people with previous marine bird survey experience to train as mentors for the seabird survey program. There are eight spaces available for this three-day course. JNCC will cover any necessary accommodation costs and will cover food up to £20 per day, and CalMac will cover the cost of ferry passage. The course will comprise of a classroom day, where the theory behind the survey methods and data recording will be taught. The following two days will be spent putting the theory into practice on CalMac ferries – likely to be the Oban – Castlebay route, with an overnight stop on Barra. The training will be carried out to ESAS standard by accredited ESAS trainers so those who wish to be assessed will become certified ESAS surveyors if they pass the assessment.

Volunteer training: Provisionally Oban during the last week of September, and Ullapool last week of October

JNCC are looking for anyone who wants to get involved in the seabird survey scheme. The scheme allows volunteers with any level survey or birding experience to take part, and build their skills over a number of mentored surveys. The training will be an interactive classroom based day, by the end of which you will be well versed in the methods and data recording protocols for the seabird survey scheme. You will also have a chance to meet mentors and experienced seabird surveyors, and learn some of the basics of seabird and cetacean identification.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact mark.lewis@jncc.gov.uk