• New protected seabird site formally classified

    Blog post by Isobel Mercer, RSPB Senior Policy Officer

    Last week, rather quietly and with no formal announcement, the Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area (SPA) was officially classified. The designation of this internationally important site for seabirds is an important step towards the delivery of the UK Government’s vision of clean, healthy and well managed seas and is welcomed by the RSPB.

    The…

    • 28 Nov 2018
  • Seabird tracking project

    The RSPB’s Nature Policy Officer Sarah Hudson tells us about a recently completed exciting new project tracking four species of seabirds. The study identifies the vital at-sea foraging areas of kittiwake, guillemot, razorbill and shag from colonies all around the UK.

    The results build upon and complement an existing RSPB paper Wakefield et al. 2017 that developed sophisticated models to predict where these species…

    • 19 Oct 2018
  • Tyne kittiwakes: What’s the RSPB doing?

    In recent weeks, a number of kittiwakes have become trapped in netting on buildings on the Newcastle Quayside, which has caused lots of concern locally.

    Helen Quayle, the RSPB’s Marine Conservation Officer and Chair of the Tyne Kittiwake Partnership, explains how the RSPB and the Partnership have been working to protect kittiwakes and how people can help.

    It’s been extremely upsetting for me to see these kittiwakes…

    • 30 Jul 2018
  • 2000 miles of seabirds – day three at Coquet Island

    RSPB’s senior policy officer Gareth Cunningham is back with another tale of his seabird journey. In this blog post, Gareth braves the elements to see eider ducks.

    After an exciting day in St Bees Head, I was looking forward to my visit to Coquet Island. The third day started with a relatively straightforward trip complicated only by the weather. A strong wind was blowing in from the East which although dry, meant…

    • 20 Jun 2018
  • 2000 miles of seabirds – day two at St Bees Head

    RSPB’s senior policy officer Gareth Cunningham is back with another tale of his seabird journey. In this blog post, Gareth visits the beautiful St Bees Head in Cumbria.

    Back in May I travelled across England to visit a few of our best seabird sites. Some of these we asked to be included in the Government’s proposals to protect current Tranche 3 Marine Conservation Zone consultation (for a bit of background, have…

    • 15 Jun 2018
  • Marine planners visit Yorkshire coastline

    In late May, Yorkshire’s seabirds received some special visitors seeking to learn more about this special coastline and its inhabitants. Despite the fog, the cliffs of Bempton and Flamborough provided a spectacular setting to discuss how marine planning can help our sealife.   

    The visit by marine planners from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), was hosted by the RSPB, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) and Flamborough…

    • 13 Jun 2018
  • 2000 miles of seabirds - day one

    As the Government gears up towards the latest round of protected marine zone consultations, RSPB’s senior policy officer Gareth Cunningham has been touring England’s best sites for seabirds. He’s ditched the formal trousers for leathers and hopped on his bike, on an exciting journey to highlight some of our amazing coastal wildlife.

    Spring is a fantastic time to live in the UK, especially if you love…

    • 5 Jun 2018
  • Spare a thought for our urban kittiwakes

    Every year thousands of seabirds return to our shores to breed on cliffs and beaches but some of them travel further inland to our towns and cities where ledges on buildings and bridges provide suitable places to nest. Kittiwakes started nesting along the Tyne in 1949 and have been here ever since. The RSPB’s Helen Quayle, Tyne Kittiwake Partnership Chair, tells us more about these unique inland seabird colonies.…

    • 24 Apr 2018
  • A tale of two seabirds: kittiwakes and herring gulls in Scarborough

    Gulls have long been associated with coastal towns, particularly herring gulls, however, this proximity to people can lead to conflict exacerbated by misconceptions and ineffective management measures. The RSPB’s Helen Quayle reports on gulls nesting in Scarborough, responds to concern over netted birds and calls for positive action.

    Within Scarborough there are two types of gull; kittiwakes and herring gulls…

    • 24 Jan 2018
  • Blue Planet II and the Albatross task force

    Blue Planet 2 has been the most watched television programme of the year, and for good reason, with its stunning cinematography and charismatic cast of characters. Steph Winnard, International Marine Project Manager for the RSPB, discusses the highlights of the show for her, and why the stories of the human impact are the scenes she won’t be forgetting.

    Over the last few weeks Blue Planet 2 has led us on an incredible…

    • 11 Dec 2017
  • Blue Planet II and protecting our green seas

    Jonathan Hall, RSPB Head of UK Overseas Territories Unit, talks cheeky penguins, kelp forests and marine reserves in our latest sealife blog.

    The ‘green seas’ featured in the latest spell-binding episode of Blue Planet II were dazzling. And the fact that many of these habitats, from shimmering sea-grass beds to epic underwater forests of kelp, are actually found in British waters is amazing.

    This isn’t necessarily…

    • 27 Nov 2017
  • Blue Planet II, wandering albatross and the UK

    The aging albatross parents fledging their last chick was a bitter-sweet moment in last night’s amazing Blue Planet II episode. Not mentioned however was that this was on a British island, for over a third of the world’s albatross breed on British islands in the southern seas. Jonathan Hall, Head of UK Overseas Territories Unit, and Kat Holmes, RSPB's Marine Policy Officer reflects on Blue Planet II's latest…

    • 20 Nov 2017
  • Marine health check result – action needed!

    Gareth Cunningham, RSPB Senior Policy Officer, reports from Cork in the Republic of Ireland where an important review of the health of our seabirds and the wider marine environment has been released.

    This year celebrates 25 years of the OSPAR commission, a mechanism by which 15 Governments and the EU cooperate to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic (see OSPAR map). Established in 1992, OSPAR helps…

    • 29 Jun 2017
  • Atlantic Puffin at the crossroads – terminal decline or a cyclical slump?

    In 2015, the red-listing of puffin as vulnerable to global extinction rang alarm bells for everyone interested in the health of our oceans, writes Euan Dunn, RSPB Principal Policy Officer.

    In response to that challenge, seabird, plankton and fisheries experts will gather this week in Reykjavik. Along with oceanographers from Europe, the USA and Canada, the biologists will explore the causes behind eye-watering rates…

    • 22 Mar 2017
  • Now is the time to build a brighter future for our seas

    Today's blog is by Kat Holmes, Policy Officer. In her recent trip to our Bempton Cliffs reserve, she reflects on what Brexit will mean for the future of our fisheries policy and how that will affect our precious seabirds.

    The first seabirds are beginning to return to our coastlines and this week I was lucky enough to be at Bempton Cliffs to see some of the first gannets soaring past the cliffs. I watched gannets…

    • 13 Mar 2017
  • Let's keep fighting for Scotland's seabirds

    RSPB Scotland Marine Policy Officer Peadar O'Connell brings us this new blog on the successes we've seen in marine conservation in Scotland and why we need to keep pushing for more action to protect seabirds.


    As the sun rises on a dark stormy morning, the sea raging below, a puffin sits on the edge of the world. Taking to the skies she sets out on a familiar journey. The little clown braves the wind and rain…

    • 16 Feb 2017
  • Protect Welsh seas and save nature

    I ddarllen y blog yma yn y Gymraeg, cliciwch yma

    Every third breath you take comes from the ocean – or more specifically the millions of tiny plant life that live there. Our seas support billions of life forms, including humans, but they’re under threat. It is vital that we protect them.

    Recognising this situation, the state of our seas is currently high on the political agenda and the Welsh Assembly have…

    • 25 Jan 2017
  • Help our coastline and save special seabirds

    Our seabirds are struggling and need help. If you live in England, can you support our special seabirds campaign by contacting your MP and telling them how important Marine Conservation Zones are for our wonderful wildlife

    The coastline is a constant draw for holidaymakers and day-trippers, especially during the summer months. Sandcastles and forts are built on beaches, whilst intrepid explorers clamber over rocks, peering…

    • 28 Sep 2016
  • Threat to Tyne Kittiwakes

    Kittiwakes on the Tyne

    The River Tyne is now home to an important breeding population of nearly 1,000 pairs of kittiwake, including a colony of over 700 pairs on the Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside. This is thought to be the furthest inland breeding kittiwake colony in the world and is a unique part of the cityscape enjoyed by many local residents and visitors. Kittiwakes are a truly oceanic seabird usually breeding…

    • 11 Dec 2015
  • Fishing and Filming in Filey Bay

    The RSPB has been working with salmon netsmen in Filey Bay, Yorkshire, to tackle seabird bycatch in their fishery. I’m pleased to present a guest blog by Rory Crawford from the BirdLife International Marine Programme, who introduces (and stars in!) a film showcasing this work and the stunning wildlife of our Bempton Cliffs reserve.

    Some of you will be familiar with our work in Filey Bay, Yorkshire, including that…

    • 25 Aug 2015
  • Can marine planning deliver protection AND prosperity?

    This is a copy of a blog post I've done for our EU partners in BirdLife Europe, examining how spatial planning at sea can deliver for the environment and economic prosperity, particularly renewables and meeting our climate change targets. Remember to add your voice to over 250,000 others calling for the Nature Directives mentioned below not to be opened up by clicking here.

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    1979 was a year to remember. It was…

    • 22 Jun 2015
  • What are Marine Protected Areas really worth?

    Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel - our very first Marine Conservation Zone

    Something as simple as choosing a packet of coffee in a supermarket can be a fraught decision as you consciously consider cost, origin, flavour and subconsciously the packaging or association with a particular brand and lifestyle. To help politicians weigh up the pros and cons, big political decisions require a formal analysis that describes…

    • 18 Jun 2015
  • Effective marine planning, supporting a healthy environment

    On Friday, I had the pleasure of organising a workshop and boat trip between the RSPB, other NGOs, Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), based around the links between emerging marine plans and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). 

    The MSFD has a legal obligation for the Government to make sure our seas are healthy and under minimal pressure from human activity. And marine plans are…

    • 2 Jun 2015
  • RSPB respond to MCZ Tranche 2 - 'OK, but needs to do much better'

    We’ve just handed in our response to Government on another 23 potential Marine Conservation Zones around England’s coasts. Along with many other responses from other interested parties, these will go into the machine and in a few months we hope that a decision to designate all 23 will emerge.

    What did we think? Well, it’s the old school report cliché – ‘OK, but needs to do much better’. The coverage of…

    • 27 Apr 2015
  • Measure for Measure

    Today, two important consultations for marine conservation close in the UK. Firstly, there is the consultation on the proposed second tranche of English Marine Conservation Zones (all 23 of them), which fills in some of the biggest gaps in the network. We’ll have a separate blog about this in due course.

    My last couple of weeks have been busy finalising our response to the current consultation on the Marine Strategy…

    • 24 Apr 2015