Thursday, 19 April 2012

Island summer residents return - the researchers.

It is the time of year when the Isle of May seabird researchers return to their summering grounds. We don't know if it is day length, daily temperature, funding considerations or natural instinct but they suddenly become restless where they have wintered in offices, labs and night clubs and when the time is right they pack their bags and wing their way towards the island.
There is high excitement when they arrive and the island is filled with their raucous cries but they quickly settle down to the business of the season. Their gaudy winter plumage is shed for a summer plumage of more faded, muted colours that as the season goes on gradually picks up a speckling of white. Their dietary requirements also change from kebabs, beer and takeaways to a more wholesome fare generally but some work so hard that they forget the time and can even miss the evening feeding frenzy.  They are often shy of the visiting public and tend to hide and roost when the visitor boats are on the island but if visitors meet them then care is needed as if cornered they are apt to regurgitate huge quantities of data and theory.
As a species they have a huge world distribution but DNA CV studies show that many seabird researchers across the world have spent time on the Isle of May at sometime in their career. But they are declining and serious government funding is required for their survival. After all, it is through their work that we are gaining the knowledge to conserve some of the worlds most popular birds and are able to monitor  how the environment around us is affected in a changing climate.

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