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Tracking gannets

Climbers going to get gannets to be fitted with satellite tags

Image: RSPB - Steve Race

For the first time, we're finding out where Bempton's gannets go when they're away from the colony.

RSPB scientists have fitted satellite tags to a number of adult gannets so that we can monitor where they go to catch fish. The tags are designed so that they don't hurt or hinder the birds, and they will eventually fall off when the gannets grow new tail feathers, if not sooner.

We need to find out whether the birds are using areas which the government has earmarked as potential wind farms, and how that might affect them. This information will be used to help plan where to put wind turbines at sea.

What we're doing

  • Fourteen adult gannets were fitted with satellite tags in July 2010 (and another 13 in July 2011)
  • In 2010 we got data from all 14 tags during the time when the gannets were rearing their chicks, and several kept transmitting data late into the breeding season 
  • The highest density of recorded locations at sea was within 31-62 miles (50-100 km) of Bempton Cliffs 
  • The greatest overlap with any of the proposed wind farm areas was with the Hornsea zone, which is nearest to Bempton
  • These results are from just one breeding season, so it's unclear just how representative they are of what Bempton's gannets do. We'll monitor them again in future breeding seasons to learn more.

You can find out more about this work on the gannet tracking project page.

How you can help

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