04/04/2009
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Seawatch SW: Call for volunteer observers

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SeaWatch SW 2009 is now underway, and we are already collating Balearic Shearwater records from around the UK and Ireland. In addition, we are calling for volunteers to assist with the survey phase in Cornwall between 15th July and 15th October. Further details are provided below and on the project website (www.seawatch-sw.org), together with other news relating to the project. Note that an illustrated article summarising the results of SeaWatch SW 2008 will be uploaded onto the BirdGuides webzine in a couple of weeks' time.


Common Dolphins were regularly encountered during SeaWatch SW 2008. (Photo: Russell Wynn)

Volunteer Seabird Observers required for 2009 Gwennap Head survey

We are now inviting keen Seabird Observers to get involved in SeaWatch SW 2009, especially during the survey period at Gwennap Head (near Land's End in Cornwall) between 15th July and 15th October. This is an ideal opportunity for those wanting to experience early autumn Cornish sea-watching, and it's all for a good cause! Seabird Observers are responsible for recording all migratory seabirds, and assisting with identification of other marine wildlife off the watchpoint. Prior experience of Balearic Shearwaters and other regularly occurring seabirds is therefore essential. We already have Seabird Observers in place for much of the survey period, but still have four weeks to fill between 1st and 30th August. Last year Seabird Observers recorded a Fea's Petrel in August, as well as good numbers of Balearic, Great, Cory's and Sooty Shearwaters. Free B&B near the watchpoint is provided, as well as travel expenses equivalent to £70 a week. If four people volunteer a week each then we will have coverage in place for the entire 93-day survey period, for the third year running! See the Get Involved page of the project website for more details and the current observer schedule.

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Volunteer Marine Wildlife and Support Observers also required

Marine Wildlife Observers of any experience level are also required during the Gwennap Head survey to assist Seabird Observers with recording of animals in the water, e.g. Basking Sharks, Ocean Sunfish, cetaceans and seals. This role is ideal for those wanting to gain experience of marine wildlife observation and recording, although volunteers will need to organise their own accommodation and travel. Support Observers are also welcome to visit the watchpoint at any time, whether it is for a few minutes or a few days. See the Get Involved page of the project website for more details and the current observer schedule.

Do you want your local patch to become a SeaWatch SW sister site?

To support the intensive effort-based survey at Gwennap Head, a series of sister sites has been established around southwest UK to put sightings into a regional context. Existing sister sites include Berry Head (Devon), Trevose Head (Cornwall) and Strumble Head (Pembrokeshire). We are now looking to include other well-watched sites across the UK and Ireland. So if you are a keen sea-watcher and you anticipate covering a local site for more than 100 hours between 15th July and 15th October 2009, we would love to hear from you! Data will be used to assist in science and conservation-based studies of the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater and other migratory seabirds. The only requirement is to record the number of hours watched each day and the number of each species recorded. To get an idea of how the data are used see the 2008 Annual Report on the project website, and contact the project co-ordinator if you would like further details.

Further details can be found on the SeaWatch SW website: www.seawatch.org.

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