As the seabirds begin to come back to nest and raise chicks on the cliffs at St Bees Head, a group of organisations are asking people to get involved with surveying the bird colonies again this year.
After a successful survey last year the Colourful Coast Partnership is working with the RSPB, Natural England and Royal Yachting Association to recruit volunteers to take a walk up onto St Bees Head and observe the colonies for any disturbance, whether it comes from the air, the land or the sea. This will add to the data from last year and help to build a bigger and better picture of anything which is disturbing the birds.
Dave Blackledge, RSPB site manager for St Bees Head, said: “The bird numbers are increasing every year, which is great, but we need to understand if the birds are getting disturbed while they’re on the cliffs or on the water as this can affect their ability to raise healthy chicks or fish for food. We know that boats and climbers can sometimes unintentionally disturb the birds but we also want to know if there’s anything else, like drones, which could be having an effect.”
Volunteers will be asked to go out once a fortnight and observe the seabirds from certain points along St Bees Head throughout the summer months, recording any interesting sightings. It’s not just skilled bird watchers who can get involved.
Sophie Badrick from the Colourful Coast Partnership said: “Anyone who’s got a pair of binoculars and is happy to walk along the headland spending a few hours every fortnight viewing the birds and making notes can get involved.”
The records will be collected by Natural England who can assess the levels of disturbance, whether this is an issue at the site and what kinds of activities are causing the issues. This will then allow Natural England working alongside the other Colourful Coast partners to focus on raising awareness to try and reduce the impacts of recreational activities on the breeding seabirds at St Bees Head so that the birds can continue to thrive.
Anyone who wants to get involved or would like more information should email Sophie.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07342088015