SOS Annual Conference

A superb day at Clair Hall yesterday – a full house again, and the speakers were so interesting and informative. Great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones!

David Howey’s personal research on the Kittiwakes nesting at Splash Point gave so much information relevant to Sussex, but also showed how statistics can be misleading.  After the installation of the Rampion Wind Farm, numbers at Splash Point declined dramatically – but on a UK wide scale, so had all other Kittiwake colonies!

Viola Ross-Smith looked at other UK nesting seabirds,  concluding that while the UK is extremely important for their survival, that most of these species are also declining – only Gannets are still doing really well.  Warming waters and overfishing both appear to cause problems with fish stocks leaving parent birds struggling to find enough fish to sustain their chicks. 

While no doubt all of the audience were aware of the White Stork Project, Lucy Groves gave very detailed background to the project, how it fits in with the wider European population, progress so far, and their hopes for the future.

Finally, Jane Smith presented us with both film, photographic and art depictions of the birds of the Hebrides  She spoke about their ecology, including problems with introduced predators, changes in land use, and efforts being made to eradicate the former and mitigate the latter. Though born and brought up in Sussex (daughter of SOS Vice President and former President, Barrie Watson & his late wife Anne) Jane always had a fascination with islands.  She is now very involved with both Project Puffin and FAME (Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment Project).

Grateful thanks to all our volunteers who made the day possible.