Distribution Britain 22 (-31.3%) Ireland 13 (+18.8%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 235,000 Ireland 40,000
European status: 300,000 (92% in Britain and Ireland =1)
British population trend: increasing steadily?
How likely are you to record it? 1 square (0.0%) Ranked 190=
These black and white shearwaters are normally only seen way out at sea from a ferry or flying past a headland. And yet our area has more than 90% of the world population! Most colonies are concentrated in rather small areas the Kerry islands off Ireland, Skokholm and Skomer off Pembrokeshire and the island of Rum in the Inner Hebrides. The location of colonies has not changed much but it seems that there has been a big increase in numbers of birds at least on Skomer and Rum at each of which 100,000 or more pairs may breed! The birds are pretty invisible at the colonies as they come in under the cover of darkness but they are very noisy! As with the Fulmar the increase is probably due to better adult survival but not due to the exploitation of discards they don't. The oldest Manx Shearwater was over 35 years.
The only English breeding sites are on the Scillies and Lundy where there are a few left and there are newly re-established breeding birds on the Calf of Man. Birds also breed on the Channel Islands. The infestation of islands by rats has caused the birds' local extinction in the past and recent successful rat extermination techniques bode well for this and other burrowing species. Accurate counts at colonies are difficult but they are improving. These are very long distance migrants with the winter quarters off the coasts of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in South America. A rosy future without rats or mink!
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead