Seabird monitoring in a pandemic

Connecting for Nature

The chalk cliffs of the Flamborough Headland range in height from about 30 feet, here at Selwick’s Bay to a dizzying 300 feet at Bempton. Photo by Cu00e1tia Matos on

The Yorkshire Coast is re-knowned for its colonies of breeding seabirds. The Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area for Birds revolves around the important numbers of Kittiwake, Gannet, Guillemot and Razorbill, plus associated species which make up the seabird assemblage (ie also Puffin, Fulmar, Shag etc).

In normal times (when we are not battling a pandemic) a big team of seabird monitoring volunteers, marshalled by a Research Assistant based at RSPB Bempton Cliffs Reserve does sterling work counting birds, nests and chicks, to derive both overall population estimates and ‘productivity’ (ie breeding success). With a colony located on sheer inaccessible cliff faces, you can imagine the scale of the challenge even in ordinary circumstances.

Despite the significant challenge…

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