Birds have best season in years on Isle of May

Kittiwake chicks on the Isle of May.
Kittiwake chicks on the Isle of May.

This year has been the most successful breeding season on record on the May Isle for some birds.

Northern fulmars were at an all time-high, while kittiwakes and shags also did well.

Mark Newell, who leads the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology seabird research on the May, reported that kittiwakes were often the best indicator of the health of the seas around the May as they very vulnerable to poor fish availability but 2014 was a bumper season.

However, it was a mixed picture for the auks, with guillemots having an average year while Puffins were slightly below average, which is thought might have been due to the thick growth of vegetation this year, hampering the birds’ efforts to access their burrows with food and giving gulls an opportunity of an easy meal.

Mark said the only real losers this year were the razorbill, with this species recording the fourth worst breeding season on record.

“The reasons for this are unclear but if we continue to get a run of poor years then this could start having big negative implications for this species,” he said.

A good breeding season needs an ample food supply and research showed birds were feeding mostly on sandeels and clupeids, the region’s most nutritional fish species.