Local MSP to “Champion” Manx Shearwater

Cunninghame South MSP, Ruth Maguire has been appointed Manx Shearwater Champion as part of Scottish Environment LINK’s Nature Champion programme.

The Nature Champion initiative was created by Scottish Environment LINK to get MSPs involved with rare or endangered species and habitats in their areas.  Through the initiative, Nature Champion MSP’s can advocate, safeguard, and raise awareness for their species or habitats within the Scottish Parliament.

This week, Ruth met up with Nora and Scott from RSPB at Fairlie Sands to attempt to spot a Manx Shearwater and find out more about what she can do to advocate for them.  Scotland is home to 30% of the Manx Shearwater population, who nest in Ayrshire on Ailsa Craig and in greater number on the Isle of Rum.  The species has made its way onto the Amber List for conservation concern as their number begin to fall.

On the visit Scott and Nora shared some insight into the things that are impacting on the Manx Shearwater population .  The key pressures to our remarkable seabirds are climate change, invasive species, developments at sea, lack of food, and seabird bycatch.  To ensure the species thrive they need to have safe places where there is plenty of food for them and their chicks and where threats or pressures are removed or managed.

Speaking after the visit Ruth commented

“Our marine environment here in Scotland is globally important for sea birds.  Having been appointed Max Shearwater Champion, I will do what I can to raise awareness of and promote action to protect and restore these wonderful seabirds and their habitat which are so important to Scotland’s environment. .”

“These beautiful birds can be seen from the Harbour Mouth, Irvine Bay, from Seamill and Fairlie Sands. Manx Shearwater have distinctive wings that are long and straight with black above and white below. They often flap their wings in rapid and stiff motions before gliding across the sea surface, “shearing” the water.  A top tip from RSPB was that they are best spotted from a boat, as I didn’t see any this time I’ll try that next!”

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