Monday, 20 March 2017


Jude Lane - from hen harriers to gannets

FASCINATING insights into the flight behaviour of gannets were a feature of the presentation to this month’s York BTO regional conference by Jude Lane.

Jude, who has a MSc in Biodversity and who has worked for the RSPB ( monitoring and protecting breeding hen harriers on upland estates), is now in her third year as a PhD student at Leeds University.

Her work on gannets is largely focusing on the colonies at Ailsa Cragg and Bass Rock, and she is using GPS tracking technology to build on observation from boats (which can only be conducted in favourable weather).
Nesting gannets - these birds are at Bempton in Yorkshire
Her particular interests are in the varying heights at which gannets fly and the behaviour of immature birds prior to breeding.

The commuting flights of gannets are typically “fast and straight” while their foraging flights are “short and twisting”.

When diving for fish, females favour a deep v-shaped plunge, while males are more likely to adopt a shallower u-shape. 

When they make outward foraging flights from nests, the height above water averages 19.8 metres while, on return (while carrying food), the height dips to 13.4 metres. 

Jude is particularly keen to discover the potential impact of existing and proposed wind farms on gannets - both collision risk and displacement from their preferred fishing waters.

Once completed and published, her research is likely to be of significant interest to wind energy developers and Government authorities as well as to environmentalists and groups such as the BTO and the RSPB.

The Ron Cooke hub at York University where Jude addressed the March 18 BTO regional conference 

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