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    Camera attached to gannets reveals birds' movements

    NewsTuesday 12 November 2013
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    Scientists from the University of Exeter have teamed up with the RSPB to fit lightweight cameras to gannets in order to reveal life from their perspective. 
     
    The footage that was captured was part of an ongoing monitoring programme on Grassholm Island off the Pembrokeshire coast. 
     
    Conservationists believe that the results of the research could help them in protecting the marine species in Wales. 
     
    Dr Steve Votier, from the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, told the BBC: "Seabirds spend most of their time at sea away from their nesting sites making them difficult to study.
     
    "This camera really helps shed light on their behaviour away from the colony, for example it allows us to more accurately investigate their reliance on discards from trawlers and how they interact with other birds while far from land."
     
    Dr Votier has spent the last eight years monitoring the birds on the RSPB reserve of Grassholm Island, which is the home of the fourth largest colony in the world with just under 40,000 pairs. 
     
    Earlier this year, he published his results using bird-borne stills cameras which showed how gannets interact with fishing trawlers. 
     
    The study was published in the journal PLoS One, and it suggested a ban on discards by fishing trawlers could impact on scavenging male birds. 
     
    After this was published, the RSPB conservation scientist Dr Mark Bolton approached Dr Votier to trial combined video camera and GPS tags. 
     
    The study was then run over the summer and logged more detailed information about the Grassholm gannets and their movements. 
     
    Dr Bolton also spoke to the BBC, saying: “The lightweight camera works alongside a GPS unit that allows us to accurately track birds' flight patterns and measure how long they are flying, feeding or resting.”
     
    The team were able to tag a number of birds and footage revealed them flying over the busy colony as well as taking their notorious high-speed dives in order to catch fish. 
     
    Conservationists have stated that a greater awareness of the birds’ activities could help to improve the protection for them at sea. 

    Picture: Sids1
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