Tessa Coledale is the Biosecurity Officer covering the wonderfully diverse seabird islands of Wales and Northern Ireland.
I’m two months into my new role and have been busy getting to know the ten sites in my ‘patch’. Every island is unique and will have its own challenges but I’m looking forward to working with site managers, communities, businesses and statutory agencies to help improve biosecurity.
The sites range from tiny low-lying tern islands in Larne Lough and Carlingford Lough and The Skerries tern colony off Anglesey to the large inhabited island of Rathlin. Rathlin has over 50,000 visitors to its shores every year and is home to Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony. Neighbouring Sheep Island is totally different again, dominated by Northern Ireland’s largest breeding cormorant colony. Another important island for cormorant we’re focussing on is the rather confusingly named Puffin Island...although it does have small numbers of breeding puffin too!
Some islands are as famous for the residents below ground as those above. The burrow dwelling Manx shearwater calls The Copeland Islands, Bardsey, Skomer and Skokholm home, with a whopping 50% of the world’s population on these last two islands. Also off South West Wales is Grassholm, white in colour thanks to the fact it is the third largest gannet colony in the world with 39,000 pairs. With this selection of sites to work on, it is no wonder I can’t wait to get started!