7 pages, colour photos , colour illustrations
Throughout most of the UK, breeding seabirds were only slightly more successful in 2006 than they were in 2004 and 2005, which were the worst seasons on record. Guillemots suffered from widespread poor breeding success, although those in the Northern Isles fared better than in 2004 and 2005. Fulmars in SE Scotland were again relatively unsuccessful, though more successful than in 2004-5. Kittiwake breeding numbers in the UK reached a new record low and breeding success was generally poor. In contrast, shag numbers started to recover from the effects of a mortality event in 2005 and their breeding was relatively successful. The previously scarce snake pipefish appeared in the diets of many species in some regions in 2006 (Harris 2006). This fish is thought to be much less nutritious than the seabirds’ normal diet and causes some chicks to choke to death; despite this, seabirds repeatedly but unsuccessfully fed them to their chicks. The reasons for the appearance of snake pipefish in UK waters and the implications for the marine ecosystem are unknown, but seem not to be related to increases in sea temperature. Brown rats were successfully eradicated from the Isle of Canna (NW Scotland) in 2006; it is hoped that this will lead to a recovery of Manx shearwaters, which formerly bred there in large numbers.
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