Distribution Britain 19 (-17.4%) Ireland 11 (-50.0%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 55 RBBP Ireland 649 RBBP
European status: 1,610 (31% in Britain and Ireland =2)
British population trend: very good at Rockabill!
How likely are you to record it? 2 squares (0.0%) Ranked 183=
This is a species with a terrible history of human exploitation first on the breeding grounds and latterly in winter by West African children. By 1900 there were only a handful breeding most off Anglesey and none in Ireland. Here the population started to recover and was regularly several hundred pairs, in scattered colonies, and a huge colony on a sandy island in Wexford Harbour was discovered 2,000 pairs in 1962. Erosion destroyed this site and Ireland held 268 pairs of the 525 total European population (excluding the Azores) in 1984! Now careful conservation at Rockabill, off Dublin, and Lady's Island Lake (Wexford) has consolidated the population at 611 and 116 nests in 1999. In Scotland over 500 pairs sometimes bred (e.g. 450 in the Firth of Forth 40 years ago) but now the total is generally about 10 pairs. In Wales the Anglesey colonies were up to 250 about 30 years ago but now staggers on at 10 or so despite recent intensive EU funded management of the nesting area. The English colonies did number several hundred pairs on the islands off Northumberland but there are now only a few dozen at scattered sites. The trapping in West Africa is a problem being worked on but the breeding birds seem to move in response to their prey availability. The Irish experience will enable us to prepare five star breeding sites for the birds if they can find a good food resource!
Hannon, C., Berrow, S.D. & Newton, S.F. 1997 Irish Birds: 6, 1-22.
UKBAP English Nature & DoE(NI) Environment and Heritage Service RSPB
Search for another Species
From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead