Petrel-heads join forces for St Kilda study

Nearly 95% of the country's Leach's Storm-Petrel population can be found on St Kilda - but even there numbers are declining.
Nearly 95% of the country's Leach's Storm-Petrel population can be found on St Kilda - but even there numbers are declining.
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COMBINING their innovative skills and resources, a range of conservation partners have come together to find out why one of Britain’s least common seabirds is in decline.

Leach’s Storm-petrels are some of the most restricted seabirds of the British Isles,

known only from a handful of sites – of which the remote Hebridean archipelago of St Kilda is by far the most densely habited, with about 94% of the known breeding population.

A study carried out on Dun, one of the St Kilda islands, in 1999 found 45,000 pairs of petrels – yet by 2003 the number had halved and then ongoing population decline was confirmed in a further study in 2006.

Now conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland, which owns and manages the St Kilda World Heritage Site on behalf of the nation, has joined forces with the Joint Natural Conservation Committee and Inverness College to find out what is happening to the petrel population.

For more on this story, see next week’s Stornoway Gazette, out on Thursday 20th.