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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Sheer bliss for rat ravaged bird
Manx shearwater chick (Pic: National Trust for Scotland)
Manx Shearwater chicks can fall prey to rats
A seabird has bred successfully on the Hebridean island of Canna for the first time in 10 years.

Manx shearwater numbers were decimated by brown rats which raided the birds' burrows and ate chicks.

However, a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) led programme to exterminate the rats has allowed the shearwaters to begin a recovery.

The Manx shearwater colony on Canna once had 1,500 pairs but suffered a drastic decline during the 1990s.

NTS said the first phase of the rat eradication programme, which was funded by the EU LIFE-Nature programme and Scottish Natural Heritage, took place last winter and killed almost all of the estimated 7,000 rats.

Attracting a nesting pair back to the island in the first year was beyond our wildest dreams
NTS officer Richard Luxmoore

Richard Luxmoore, head of NTS nature conservation which owns and manages the island, said more shearwaters could be attracted to Canna.

He said: "We were confident that this project would be successful in the long-term because we expected shearwaters from the neighbouring island of Rum to recolonise the island.

"However, attracting a nesting pair back to the island in the first year was beyond our wildest dreams."

NTS said monitoring by wild bird organisation, Highland Ringing Group, has shown key bird species to be increasing in numbers.

Poisoned baits

Razorbills, which nest amongst boulders, have gone from 27 successful nests in 2005 to 273 in 2006.

A colony of shags have increased from 48 pairs last year to 72 pairs in 2006.

Rare wood mice, taken off Canna to protect them from the poisoned baits used, have been returned to the island.

The last known rat was detected and poisoned in mid-February.


SEE ALSO
Birds return after rats' demise
17 Aug 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Rare mice returned to island home
26 Jul 06 |  Glasgow and West
Island's cull targets brown rats
14 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Isles rats culled over bird fears
20 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Puffins win island rat war
18 Sep 02 |  Scotland

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