Wednesday, 19 June 2013

18th June: Beached birds examination

Beached birds are sometimes washed up on the shores of the Reserve and if any are found in good condition they are brought back to the Reserve base. Daniel M Turner, Northeast England Beached Birds Survey group coordinator, kindly came to pick up some Puffins, Guillemots and a Fulmar last week.

Daniel writes:
On 10th March 2013 volunteer surveyor George Moody found the corpse of a Fulmar on Lindisfarne. Analysis at the Dove Marine Laboratory (Newcastle University) showed this was an adult male with no feather oiling and fully grown flight and tail feathers in good condition. Head, bill, wing and leg measurements were recorded before an internal examination was carried out by Dr Jan Andries van Franeker from The Netherlands (Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies). This helped to reveal the bird’s sex and age and showed starvation was the final cause of death. The stomach contents will be analysed in Holland.

BBC film crew (from left: producer, cameraman and presenter) with Dr Franeker at Dove Marine lab, 11th June. Filming for a new series of Inside Out, to be shown in Autumn 2013. (Photo by Daniel M Turner)

The North East Beached Bird Survey group, a keen group of Northeast volunteers, has been involved in the ‘Save the North Sea’ (SNS) Fulmar project since 2003. Lindisfarne resident  George Moody has regularly surveyed the island’s shoreline for the past ten years finding nine Fulmar corpses suitable for full analysis in that time. The SNS Fulmar project involves all North Sea fringing countries – Dr Franeker is the international coordinator. Analysis of 796 North Sea Fulmar corpses found in the period 2007-2011 has shown that 95% contained plastic in the stomach – on average 33 pieces weighing 0.38 grams (Van Franeker & The SNS Fulmar Study Group, 2013). Stomach analysis of 65 Northeast England birds, found between 2003 and 2011, has shown that birds in our region are carrying increasing levels of plastic litter. The SNS Fulmar project is long term and serves to monitor North Sea pollution and seek improvement. 

Dark phase Fulmar found in March, died due to problems with it's plumage (Photo by Daniel M Turner)

The NEBBS group webpage may be found at:
For further information on the international project, including the option to download Dr Franeker's report, visit:

Many thanks to Dan Turner for his kind help, photographs and information.

The ingestion of plastic by seabirds and other marine animals is just one reason why it is irresponsible to litter or dump debris into the sea. Seals and birds are sometimes found tangled in plastic, rope or fishing nets around the Reserve's shores. We carry out regular litter picks on the Reserve beaches which is very important for removing these materials to keep our protected shorebirds and animals safe.

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