Seabirds 1; rats 0

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

A£750,000 scheme to kill rats on two of the Isles of Scilly, backed by The Prince of Wales, has led to a resur­gence of rare Manx shear­wa­ters and storm pe­trels. Both had once been so com­mon that, in the 13th cen­tury, they were used as cur­rency. An­nual rents were paid in 30 ‘pu­fons’ (ei­ther puffins or shear­wa­ters) to the Duchy of Corn­wall, but, be­cause the chicks and eggs were be­ing eaten by rats, no Manx shear­wa­ters sur­vived on the is­land of St Agnes and Gugh for 100 years.

This year, that’s all dras­ti­cally changed; 43 chicks have suc­cess­fully fledged. Now, they’re mak­ing their first 5,000-mile mi­gra­tion to South Amer­ica. They will re­turn to the Isles of Scilly in spring next year.

‘Now that the rats have gone, the birds have suc­ceeded in rais­ing some young.’ re­ports Ja­clyn Pear­son, the Isles of Scilly Se­abird Re­cov­ery Project Man­ager. It’s hoped that the greater num­ber of rare birds will draw more tourists to the is­lands, on which they de­pend for their in­come. Hazel Southam

A Manx shear­wa­ter

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