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Manx shearwater

Description: Manx name: Scraayl.

A Manx shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) specimen from the Calf of Man, off the south west coast of the Isle of Man, where Francis Willoughby, visiting in 1676, first coined the name 'Manx shearwater'. Local people knew these birds as 'Manck puffins', and viewed them as an important economic resource, harvesting the still flightless and fat chicks from their nest burrows in the once huge Calf of Man colony. The annual cull was merciless and thousands of young birds were taken for their flesh and oil. This would have exacted a heavy toll in itself, but the arrival of Brown rats (or 'longtails') on the Calf from a shipwreck sometime in the 1780s seems to have been catastrophic, leading to the extinction of the breeding colony.

With the establishment of the Calf of Man Bird Observatory came an awareness that Manx shearwaters were probably trying to nest on the island in small numbers. Concerted pest control campaigns from 1979 onwards have enabled the nesting attempts to increase slowly, and in 2000, conclusive proof was obtained of Manx shearwaters breeding successfully once again on the Calf. In 2005, 104 occupied nests were found by playing sound recordings of the distinctive call of the adult birds at the entrances to likely looking burrows. Monitoring of breeding success of the shearwaters is now an annual task for the Calf wardens, as is control of the rats which would otherwise eat the eggs and even the chicks if allowed to.

References: Sharpe, C.M. (ed) 2007. Manx Bird Atlas. Liverpool University Press; Cullen, J.P. & Jennings, P.P. 1986 Birds of the Isle of Man. Bridgeen Publications, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Date found: 1997-09

Taxonomic name: Puffinus puffinus

Collection: Natural History Zoology Collection

ID number: 1998-0345

Subject tags : #MM100COLLECTIONS


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