Puffins

Garbh Eilean

Outer Hebrides

Garbh Eilean (Scottish Gaelic Rough Isle) is one of the Shiant Isles at the south end of the Minch on the west coast of Scotland.

Arran

Firth of Clyde

Arran or the Isle of Arran (Scots Gaelic: Eilean Arainn) is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland.

Puffin Island

Irish Sea

Puffin Island (Welsh: Ynys Seiriol) is an uninhabited island off the eastern tip of Anglesey,

Annet

Isles of Scilly

Annet (Cornish: Anet, kittiwake) is the second largest of the fifty or so uninhabited Isles of Scilly, one km west of St Agnes with a length of one km and approximately 22 ha in area. The low lying island is almost divided in two by a narrow neck of land at West Porth which can, at times, be covered by waves. At the northern end of the island are the two granite carns of Annet Head and Carn Irish and three smaller carns known as the Haycocks.

The rocky outcrops on the southern side of the island, such as South Carn, are smaller. Annet is a bird sanctuary and the main seabird breeding site in Scilly.The island is closed to the public from 15 April to 20 August every year to limit the disturbance to the breeding seabirds for which it has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is also within part of the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is managed by the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust[3] who lease it from the Duchy of Cornwall.

History

Little has been found on Annet in the way of human remains apart from a prehistoric hut circle, a fragmentary field system and several limpet middens. Bones of cattle and sheep were found indicating that they were eaten here and probably grazed the island.[3] It is proposed to designate the whole of Annet as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.[4] The name of the island is first recorded in 1302 as Anet.

In the 19th century Annet was ″used for pasturage by the inhabitants of other islands″although with only one freshwater seepage there could not have been many animals grazing on the island. The SS Castleford struck the Crebawethans in June 1877 and led to some of her cargo of 250 to 450 cattle being landed on the island and staying there for up to ten days. Gurney (1889) reported that ″… the animals trampled everything and would have caused an immense amount of damage at the peak of the shearwater and storm petrel nesting season″.  It seems unlikely that many stayed for ten days because of the need for fresh water. Cattle were washed up on the Cornish coast as far as Mount’s Bay and St Ives.Another ship wrecked nearby, the Thomas W Lawson spilled her cargo of oil on 14 December 1907 causing the loss of many birds. In 1971 Rex Cowan found the wreck of the VOC Hollandia. A large quantity of coins were found along with bronze cannons and mortars. The ship hit Gunner Rock on the 13 June 1743 with the loss of 276 lives.

Natural history

The geology of Annet is of Hercynian granite overlain with raised beach deposits. The island is low-lying with a top height of 18 m and the coast consists of boulder storm beaches. The effects of wind exposure, salt spray and lack of topography, restricts diversity and only 53 species of vascular plants have been recorded. The north of the island is dominated by a well developed, thick, thrift (Armeria maritima) turf whilst the southern part is dominated by dense stands of bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), bramble (Rubus fruticosus) and bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), with some sand sedge (Carex arenaria) and Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus). Thickets of tree mallow (Lavatera arborea) have developed at the back of some of the boulder beaches. There were scattered colonies of shore dock (Rumex rupestris) until a storm in 1982 swept away some of the boulder beaches. One colony remains in the corner of a relatively sheltered beach in the south of the island at a freshwater seepage. Annet is the ″British stronghold″ for the lichen Roccella fuciformis.

Fauna

Annet is considered to be of outstanding importance as a seabird colony. Twelve species nest here, of which two, Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) have nationally important breeding populations. The Storm Petrel breeds amongst the boulders of the more stable storm beaches. The largest population of Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) in the islands breed here and the other annual breeding species are Puffin (Fratercula arctica), Greater Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus), Razorbill (Alca torda), Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), Herring Gull (L. argentatus) and Shag (P. aristotelis). Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) breed on the island most years as do Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) and very rarely Arctic Tern (S. paradisaea).

Breeding birds

Annet has long had a reputation for being the best island for breeding birds and Jessie Mothersole visiting in 1910 described the island thus:

Annet is known by the name of ” Bird Island,” from the immense numbers that breed there. In the early summer the sea all round is black with puffins and razor-bills, their white breasts being hardly noticeable as they sit on the surface of the water ; and the air above is dark with clouds of gulls, and full of their ceaseless cry. Puffins (also called sea-parrots) have bred on the islands from time immemorial″.
Numbers of breeding birds have fallen over the years and in the last 150 years some of the threats have been recorded. The stranding of cattle from the SS Castleford, in 1877, would have caused a problem with so many heavy animals grazing and walking over the shallow soils and burrows of breeding birds. Another wreck, the Thomas W Lawson on 14 December 1907, spilled her cargo of oil and many of the rabbits and birds on Annet ″were seen to lie upon the shore″. The smell of oil could still be smelt on nearby St Agnes eighteen months later.[10] At the time of Jessie Mothersoles visit in 1910, visitors were only allowed one hour on the island and shooting and egg collecting were forbidden. Despite this, Annet figured highly on the list of places to visit for egg collecting. An examination of the egg collection at the Natural History Museum (NHM) shows 45 eggs taken between 1880 and 1936 by 14 individuals and one group from Holloway College; doubtless there are many more eggs in private collections. Names on the data cards include well known wildlife experts such as Charles Rothschild and F W Frohawk. An indication of how common and acceptable egg collecting was at the time, is the issue of day permits to visit uninhabited islands by the warden A A Dorrien-Smith of Tresco. A NHM data card for three eggs in the collection has a permit for landing on Annet on 24 May 1931 attached and allowed the Souter brothers to land on any island, except tern islands, for up to one hour.

Seabird 2000 survey

The most recent count of seabirds on the Isles of Scilly was the Seabird 2000 count and on Annet 209 nests were found to be occupied by Shag out of a total of 1109 for the islands. On Scilly, they breed almost exclusively beneath boulder beaches or holes in low cliffs. Manx Shearwater was estimated to occupy 123 burrows out of a total of 201 for the islands’ – a 74% decrease from a previous survey in 1974.[2]

Handa

Highland

Handa (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Shannda) is an island off the west coast of Sutherland, Highland, Scotland. It is 309 hectares (1.19 sq mi) and 123 metres (404 ft) at its highest point.

A small ferry sails to Handa from Tarbet on the mainland and boat trips operate to it from Fanagmore.

It is a Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve.


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The island is composed of Torridonian red sandstoneand surrounded by cliffs covered with birds.

In the north is a hill with two peaks, with the south and east being lower lying. The north and west have 100 metres (328 ft) high cliffs, and there are beaches in the south and east. The Sound of Handa separates it from the mainland and smaller islands around Handa include Glas-Leac to the south, Eilean an Aigeach to the north east and Stac an t-Sealbhaig to the north.

Handa is part of the North-West Sutherland National Scenic Area, one of 40 in Scotland.[/tab]

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The island’s name is of mixed Gaelic and Norse origin and means “island at the sandy river”.

Anciently the island was used as a burial place, and there are still the remains of a chapel in the south east, commemorated in the name Tràigh an Teampaill (Beach of the Temple).

It had a population of 65 in 1841, but in 1848 potato famine forced the inhabitants to emigrate. In some ways this is surprising, since it is recorded that the islanders had a fairly varied diet including oats, fish and seabirds, rather than depending heavily on a potato crop. The islanders had a parliament, similar to that of St Kilda, which met daily, and the oldest widow on the island was considered its “Queen”.

Wolves dug up graves so frequently that in the 19th century the inhabitants of Eddrachillis resorted to burying their dead on Handa.

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Handa is noted for its birdlife, which includes puffins, razorbills and guillemots.

The island is an SSSI, and was leased to the RSPB originally for 25 years. However the Balfours did not renew the lease, because they wished a Scottish based body to run the island; as a result the Scottish Wildlife Trust took it over. Despite being a reserve, the island receives five thousand visitors per annum

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[tab title=”Getting there”]
Small ferry boat operates from Tarbet. The service operates April – early September, Monday – Saturday from 9:30am.

On arrival to the Handa island visitors will be met by SWT staff/volunteers. There is a 6km circular path (we recommend stout footwear). Most visitors spend at least 2 1/2 – 3 hours on the island.
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On Ederachillis’ shore
The grey wolf lies in wait,—
Woe to the broken door,
Woe to the loosened gate,
And the groping wretch whom sleety fogs
On the trackless moor belate.

Thus every grave we dug
The hungry wolf uptore,
And every morn the sod
Was strewn with bones and gore:
Our mother-earth had denied us rest
On Ederchaillis’ shore

—The Book of Highland Minstrelsy, 1846


The island is now part of the Scourie Estate, owned by Dr Jean Balfour and J.C. Balfour[8] and managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust with a population of just one warden during the summer months.


Tresco

Isles of Scilly

Tresco is a small, family-owned island measuring about two and a half miles long by a mile wide at its broadest point.

Glunimore

Firth of Clyde

Glunimore Island is an uninhabited island around 3 miles (4.8 km) south east of the Kintyre peninsula