Chick recorded af­ter rats cleared out

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS -

A storm pe­trel chick has been recorded on a small group of is­lands in the Minch for the first time – just months af­ter the isles be­came rat free.

The seabird had been un­able to breed suc­cess­fully at the Shi­ants, off Lewis, be­cause the preda­tory rats would eat their eggs.

But a pro­gramme to re­move the non-na­tive crea­tures has been suc­cess­ful and now there is hope storm pe­trels will form a colony.

The recorded call­ing of a Eu­ro­pean storm pe­trel chick from a bur­row is an im­por­tant step for the Shi­ant Isles Re­cov­ery Project as it’s the first known breed­ing of these seabirds on the is­lands.

Dr Char­lie Main, se­nior project man­ager for the re­cov­ery project, de­scribed the dis­cover as “fan­tas­tic”.

He said an adult was recorded last year and it was hoped they would start breed­ing, adding: “To have this con­firmed now is great for the project and for the species in Scot­land.

“It’s also an­other vi­tal step for mak­ing these is­lands a safer place for Scot­land’s in­ter­na­tion­ally im­por­tant seabirds, many of which are strug­gling to cope with the im­pact of cli­mate change. We’ve strong hopes for the fu­ture that more storm pe­trels will breed here and a colony will be es­tab­lished.”

The project is a part­ner­ship be­tween RSPB Scot­land, Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage and the Ni­col­son fam­ily, the cus­to­di­ans of the is­lands.

Adam Ni­col­son said: “The tiny, vul­ner­a­ble peep­ing of the storm pe­trel chick was one of the most op­ti­mistic sounds to have been heard on the Shi­ants in liv­ing mem­ory.

“In that one sound, and ex­traor­di­nar­ily quickly, all the ef­fort, skill and or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Shi­ant Isles re­cov­ery project has al­ready be­gun to find its re­ward. This is only the be­gin­ning.”

Dr An­drew Douse, SNH pol­icy and ad­vice man­ager for or­nithol­ogy, added: “The re­cov­ery of storm pe­trels on the Shi­ant Isles was one of the key aims of this project so to see it be­gin­ning to hap­pen so quickly is ex­cel­lent news.

“Hear­ing the call of a chick for the very first time is a real mile­stone and a vin­di­ca­tion of the ben­e­fits of re­mov­ing non-na­tive species from the is­lands.”

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