Seabirds 1; rats 0
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