Tuesday, 1 November 2016


Lesser Black-backed Gull by Gary Clewley/BTO
Tags could provide vital data
VALUABLE information about the threat, if any, posed by offshore windfarms to lesser black-backed gulls could emerge from a forthcoming project.

The BTO and Danish company Dong Energy have teamed up to assess how lesser black-backed gulls reacts to turbines located off the Cumbria coast.
Over two years, state-of-the-art GPS tags will be tracking  the movements of gulls both from a colony at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s South Walney Nature Reserve and from rooftops in Barrow-in-Furness.

The tags have been designed to sit between a bird’s wings like a backpack and will allow researchers to understand many different aspects of these birds’ lives around windfarms, including, crucially, whether gulls are at risk of death through collision with turbine blades.

Says the BTO's Emily Scragg: "The tagging will provide an unprecedented opportunity to discover how seabirds respond to the construction of an offshore wind farm as well as to understand further their movements through the year.”

 “I can’t wait to see the results!”

Equally enthusiastic is  Dong Energy's lead environmental and consent specialist, Allen Risby, who says:  “We are keen to learn more about how these gulls behave around offshore windfarms as they fly above, below or between the individual  turbines. 

“They might  provide opportunities for the gulls, too.”

The study is being jointly funded by the Walney Extension and Burbo Bank Extension projects, two of the offshore wind farms that Dong is currently constructing off the northwest coast.

Tagging was undertaken this year during the gulls’ summer breeding season, and the work  has already shown some differences in the use of offshore areas by birds from South Walney and Barrow.

But the really important data will not emerge until the construction phase of the windfarms through to when the turbine blades start turning.

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