Highlands & Islands

Seabird on Shiant Isles was oldest of its kind in Europe

Shag Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Shags are a red status conservation species according to the RSPB

A seabird ringed on the Shiant Isles in the Western Isles set a new European birding longevity record before it died, ornithologists have said.

The shag, which was 31, was fitted with a ring on 30 June 1985.

Ornithologists lost track of the bird until it was found dead on the Shiants on 26 April this year.

After checking records, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said it was oldest ringed shag in Britain, Ireland and Europe.

The bird, known by its ring number 1227282, has raised the record by almost a year, the trust said.

Red status

In 1985, it was one of a number of chicks ringed by Sam Powell, then a trainee ringer from South Wales working with the Shiants Auk Ringing Group.

Many of the hundreds of birds ringed in 1985 were found dead within a year, though one was found to have survived for nine years.

Bird 1227282 was found dead almost 31 years after it hatched by RSPB worker John Taynton.

According to the RSPB, shags are a red status conservation species because of their declining numbers.

The Shiant Islands lie four miles (6km) off the coast of Lewis.

They provide habitat for more than 150,000 birds, including 10% of the UK's puffin population.

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