Distribution Britain 43 (-24.6%) Ireland 37 (+8.8%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 14,000 Ireland 4,400
European status: 125,000 (15% in Britain and Ireland =3)
British population trend: recent losses outlook uncertain
How likely are you to record it? 15 squares (0.3%) Ranked 140= [88=]
A hundred years ago this species was in a parlous state as its eggs were sold for food. There were only a few dozen breeding in colonies on Walney, Moray and Nairn and Orkney but over 100 in Co. Mayo and on the Farnes. In Ireland many new areas were colonised with 3,500 pairs in 1984, 4,400 pairs about five years later but only 2,941 in 1995. The Scottish situation was similar with two well established colonies on the Sands of Forvie (near Aberdeen) and Inchmickery (Firth of Forth) holding over 2,000 pairs; there were a few hundred at other sites, particularly Orkney. Recently the two main colonies have gone and less than 1,000 pairs now breed. In Wales up to 1,000 pairs now breed on Anglesey. In England about 20 colonies are now regular (biggest in Northumbria and Norfolk) with over 10,000 pairs in all. These birds are sometimes very mobile and shift breeding sites but killing, by children in West Africa, may be important in limiting numbers. Are recent losses a warning for the future?
Hannon, C., Berrow, S.D. & Newton, S.F. 1997 Irish Birds: 6, 1-22.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead