Isles of Scilly seabird recovery project

The project is working with the islands communities to make more space for seabirds.

 Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus, adult flying low over the water of an evening, Isles of Scilly


Overall, the breeding seabird population in Scilly has declined by nearly a quarter over the last 25 years.

The greatest threat on land to seabird colonies is from rat predation (rats take adults, chicks and eggs). Rat predation limits the distribution of bird species and threatens existing colonies. The partnership is working together to safeguard the seabird colonies on the islands and reduce predator disturbance.

However, incursions of rats from the inhabited islands occur from time to time, threatening some of the most important seabird islands including Annet.


  • Reverse recent declines in seabird populations on the Isles of Scilly through removal of rats from the islands of St Agnes and Gugh, and maintain the uninhabited islands' rat-free status.
  • Enable people living on and visiting the Isles of Scilly to learn about, take pride in and play an active role in celebrating and conserving their seabird and wider natural heritage.
  • Train and support island communities to embrace the benefits of the seabird recovery, including the removal of rats, and continue to protect their heritage once the project has ended.


  • November 2012 - Funding secured.
  • November 2013 - Rat-removal operation began.
  • December 2013 - Last sign of rats.
  • September 2014 - First Manx shearwater chicks recorded on the islands in living memory (10 were recorded).

Planned Work

  • Spring 2015 - Full SPA survey of all the breeding seabirds on Scilly.
  • January to March 2015 - Final check to declare rat-free status (cannot be achieved until two years after last sign of rats).
  • Continue to work with the community to ensure the islands of St Agnes and Gugh remain rat-free for the future.
  • Seabird friendly activities delivered to the residents, wider community and visitors to the islands.


We have had no rat-sign since December 2013 and we were delighted to record the first Manx shearwater chicks recorded on the islands in living memory (10 were recorded) in September 2014.

Species affected (not UK birds)

The Scilly shrew is also a conservation priority for this project.


  • Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust
  • Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Natural England
  • Duchy of Cornwall


  • Isles of Scilly Bird Group
  • St Agnes and Gugh Island representative



Principle funders are EU LIFE Nature and the Heritage Lottery Fund. This project benefits from funding contributions from the partners above.


Coast on a stormy day

Jaclyn Pearson

Learning Officer, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: England Country: UK Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Heathland Habitat: Marine and intertidal Project status: Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Species protection