We welcome Holly Paget-Brown as the newest member of the Biosecurity for LIFE team. Here she introduces herself, explains the distance she has covered between biosecurity projects is an impressive 1200KM spanning the breadth of the country. From Scilly to Shetland, Holly brings a wealth of experience to the project.
Lying only a mile off the Northumberland Coast, the Farne Islands archipelago hosts one of England’s most impressive seabird colonies, managed by the National Trust. Depending of the state of the tide, the Farnes boast between 15 and 28 islands, the largest being just 16 acres in size. Onto these small isles, an assemblage of over 160,000 seabirds crowd together each summer to breed.
Brown rats can have a body length up to about 28cm with a tail between 10-24cm. They grow to weigh 200-300g and tend to live about 2-years in the wild. As with all rat species brown rats are very good breeders, females can breed from 3 months old and average 5 litters per year. Pup numbers average about 6 pups per litter although litters of up to 12 are not uncommon. Brown rats live in loose colonies made up of smaller ‘clan’ groups digging their own burrows. Larger more powerful males occupy and defend better territories and food sources
All three islands were designated as a SPA for holding 1.7% of the world’s population of breeding Manx Shearwater and 22.6% of the Irish population of breeding Arctic tern. These burrow nesting and ground nesting seabirds are particularly susceptible to predation by invasive mammalian predators compared with cliff nesting seabirds that often remain inaccessible to invasive species.
The SPA islands of Canna and Sanday are found 30 miles west of Mallaig, at the westernmost point of the Small Isles in the Inner Hebrides. The islands cover 6,566 hectares, reaching up to 210 metres in height, with imposing basalt lava flows, and sea stacks Dùn Mòr and Dùn Beag, which host many of the islands’ 1,200 Atlantic puffins during the summer months.
The Shiant Isles are in the north-west of Scotland in the Minch between the Isle of Skye and the islands of Lewis and Harris. They lie approximately 6 km from the south-east coast of Lewis, the closest inhabited island. The group consists of three main islands (Garbh Eilean, Eilean an Taighe and Eilean Mhuire) covering a total of 173 hectares with a chain of smaller sea stacks known as the Galtachan stretching out to the west. The islands are dominated by spectacular basalt sea cliffs and an extensive boulder field on the east side of Garbh Eilean.
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