Seawatch SW: 2007 Project Update


Balearic Shearwater (photo: Tom Brereton/Marinelife).

This update on the SeaWatch SW project covers the period from January to February 2007. Note that full details on the project background can be found by clicking here or on the project website at www.seawatch-sw.org.

Since the public launch of Seawatch SW in February the website has received almost 800 visitors and our call for volunteer observers has received an excellent response. Consequently, all core seabird observer slots are now full, guaranteeing continuous daily coverage of the project watchpoint at Gwennap Head, Porthgwarra, by experienced observers between July 15th and October 15th. However we still require a few more core shark observers, who will be responsible for recording Basking Sharks and other marine animals (as well as having plenty of time to watch seabirds!). About 30 days remain to be filled, and a small number of these have free B&B on offer. We also encourage anyone interested in the project to sign up as a support observer - the more pairs of eyes the better!

We remind all observers that one of the main aims of SeaWatch SW is to provide a central point for Balearic Shearwater recording in UK waters; this will allow us to put project results into a national context. We therefore urge anyone who sees a Balearic Shearwater in the UK in 2007 to contact us with details of the sighting, and/or submit their record to BirdGuides.

A total of 42 UK Balearic Shearwater reports has already been received for 2007, and monthly summaries with distribution maps are now available on the website for January and February. Initial results suggest that SW England is becoming an important feeding area for Balearic Shearwaters in the early winter, with peak numbers seen offshore of the project watchpoint at Gwennap Head. Fortunately there were no reports of Balearic Shearwaters being affected by the MSC Napoli oil spill.

Many thanks to all those who have already contributed records and/or signed up as part of the survey team.

Written by: Dr Russell B Wynn, SeaWatch SW co-ordinator