• 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 such instances to Defra (03459 335577). RSPB and Nature Scot are working together to collate all records of birds with suspected avian influenza on the islands. If you see a suspected case of avian influenza please email a record to robyn.stewart@rspb.org.uk, including date, species (if known) and location.
  • 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

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Kittiwakes - a 96% decline of the breeding population on St Kilda & in danger of global extinction.

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Eyes and Ears Everywhere
The kittiwake (a small species of gull), has been added to the list of birds considered to be facing the risk of global extinction.
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The following is an RSPB press release:-

The latest annual revision of birds on the IUCN Red List, which has been announced by BirdLife International on behalf of the IUCN, brings the total number of UK bird species considered to be facing the risk of extinction to nine.

Globally, the species is thought to have declined by around 40% since the 1970s, justifying its uplisting from Least Concern to Vulnerable. Climate change and fishing that sets aside too little for the birds are pushing the kittiwake closer to extinction.

Alarming trends have been recorded in the UK’s kittiwake numbers, particularly in Orkney and Shetland where breeding birds have declined by 87% since 2000, and on St Kilda in the Western Isles where as much as 96% of the breeding population has been lost.

Laura Bambini, the RSPB Scotland’s seabird recovery officer said: “Some efforts are underway to protect important seabird foraging areas in international waters, but there is much more we could do around the UK to protect our internationally important and increasingly threatened seabird populations.”

In the North Sea, sandeels provide a vital food source for breeding seabirds and they are crucial to the breeding success of kittiwakes. However, they are also the target of an industrial sandeel fishery.

Recent research has shown that UK seabird populations depend on the same sandeel stocks as this industrial fishery, highlighting the importance of continuing to work with other countries on fisheries management after leaving the European Union.

Rising sea temperatures due to climate change also threaten sandeels, so kittiwake food supplies could be affected by both local and large-scale processes.

“We need to ensure that the future management of the sandeel fishery is sustainable. If our internationally important populations of seabirds are going to cope with climate change, then we need to make sure industrial fisheries are not adding to their problems”, said Dr Euan Dunn, the RSPB’s Marine Policy Specialist.

This is an example of why fisheries policy is vital to the health of our seas. Our thinking on fisheries and marine protection must be as joined up as the seas on which we all rely.
 
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