Friday, 29 April 2011

Puffins and Petrels in Peril

Three years ago we visited Newfoundland for our first family vacation with our son.  The birding and wildlife watching were highlights of the trip and among our best experiences was a tour of the Witless Bay Ecological Reservejust half an hour south of St. John’s.  The reserve consists of four islands with large concentrations of nesting seabirds, notably Black-legged Kittiwakes, Atlantic Puffins, Common Murres, Razorbills, and other alcids.  We took a boat tour with the excellent O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours and before getting to the principal point of this post, here’s a sampling of what we saw that day. (All images clickable for full size)
Atlantic Puffins nesting in burrows - suitable island or sea stack habitat is critical so birds are protected from predators such as foxes or coyotes

"On the third day in Newfoundland my true love gave to me: three Atlantic Puffins, two Common Murre, and a Razorbill carrying capelin."

Not just about the birds: Humpback Whale beginning a deep dive

Black-legged Kittiwake family

Hundreds of thousands of nesting birds - here mostly Common Murre and Kittiwakes - this image definitely worth clicking to enlarge
Unfortunately, there is a potential threat to this ecological treasure in the form of a proposed new housing development near the island.  Artificial light sources can have a significant impact on the movement of wildlife at night and young birds, just leaving the nest and learning to fly, may be particularly vulnerable as they can easily become disoriented.  I came across this article on the ABA (American Birding Association) website earlier this week which details the issue and suggests potential courses of action.  If you have been to this reserve, would like to go one day, or just enjoy seabirds and are concerned about maintaining healthy populations, I encourage you to click through and make your voice heard. 

No comments:

Post a Comment