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MacArthur Green Support 4 PhD Studentships on Marine Renewables and Sea Birds

We are passionate about marine renewables and sea birds, and we are delighted to announce that MacArthur Green is now supporting four PhD studentships in this area. Each of these students are aiming to advance knowledge in this area, and reduce uncertainty for future marine renewable developments. 

We are working with an number of key partners to deliver this research including; Glasgow University, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), MASTS, UHI (ERI Thurso), Leeds University and Vattenfall.

We thought it was about time that we let everyone know a bit more about our PhD team, and what they are going to be looking at:

  1. Glasgow University Scholarship; Alex RobbinsMarine wet renewables and seabirds.’ University supervisor Dr David Bailey.
  2. NERC CASE Studentship, Glasgow University; Julie MillerModelling populations of seabirds affected by marine developments.’ University supervisor Professor Jason Matthiopoulos.
  3. SNH/MASTS Scholarship, UHI (ERI Thurso); Daniel JohnstonEcology of black guillemots in relation to Marine Protected Areas and tidal stream arrays.’ University supervisor Dr Liz Masden.
  4. NERC CASE Studentship, Leeds University (with Vattenfall as 2nd CASE partner); student to be appointed ‘Demography of gannets on Bass Rock in relation to offshore wind farms.’ University supervisor Professor Keith Hamer.

Professor Robert Furness and Mark Trinder are working hard to support each of these students as they wade their way through these important topics. Watch this space for updates from our PhD team!

MacArthur Green Auk research project selected by Vattenfall backed EOWDC

MacArthur Green’s auk research project has been selected as part of a multi-million pound research programme based in Aberdeen Bay. 

Funded by the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, run by Vattenfall, these projects will put Scotland at the forefront of research and development in the industry.

Bob Furness and Mark Trinder will be measuring connectivity between auk special protection area populations and offshore wind farms, and tracking the non-breeding season movements of adult auks. The project aims to demonstrate that this could reduce future uncertainty in impact assessments and improve understanding of how auks engage and co-exist with Offshore Wind Farms. This project will fund a PhD student to work with the research team.

Professor Furness (Principal Ornithologist at MacArthur Green) said,

‘It is very exciting to be able to deploy tags on guillemots and razorbills to learn about their migration routes and wintering areas. Until now, our knowledge of their migrations has mainly come from recoveries of ringed birds found dead on beaches in winter, which can give a very biased picture. This project will allow us to track the routes used by birds, and which areas they spend time in throughout the winter.

We are particularly interested to find out if these migrations differ between birds from different colonies, and whether individuals use different areas from year to year or consistently go back to favourite locations. That knowledge will not only help in assessment of the impacts of offshore wind farms but will also help us understand how best to conserve these internationally important seabird populations that are an iconic part of Scotland’s wildlife heritage’.


T in the Park Osprey Chicks Successfully Fledge!

MacArthur Green has had a busy summer supporting DF concerts and Bluewind Consulting with ornithology clerk of works for the Osprey nesting at the T in the Park site in Strathallan, Perthshire.

As well as monitoring the Osprey, MacArthur Green carried out the terrestrial ecology surveys and post event monitoring for the T in the Park site at Strathallan in Perthshire.

A Wee Bit About The Ospreys From Our Very Own Joyce Reid

The Scottish Osprey population is only about 180-200* pairs, so these birds are still twice as rare as Golden Eagles in the UK. This fragile population is protected by law so careful monitoring was in place at T in the Park to ensure the construction works and noise from the Festival did not cause the breeding attempt to fail.

Osprey's feet are specially adapted, with short spines covering the foot pads and long sharp talons to help grip wet fish. Ospreys can hunt 10 miles from the nest, catching a variety of fish species.

Incubation was shared by both adults, starting in late April and after about 40 days. On the 2nd or 3rd June, the first egg hatched. The male was observed taking prey to his mate on the nest where she fed small pieces to the chick. The 2nd egg hatched a couple of days later.

The number of feeds increased rapidly as the chicks grew, with between two and four fish being brought to the nest each day. The chicks could perch and look out the nest by July and were fully feathered against the rain.

During the T in the Park festival weekend the nesting behaviour and feeding continued as normal, with the birds watching the comings and goings of the festival goers.

By the middle of July the chicks were practicing flapping their wings to strengthen muscles needed for the long migration back to Africa.

In August they were flying around and eating fish unaided, they just need to learn to catch them now!

The UK's Ospreys winter mostly in Senegal, The Gambia or Mauritania and they fly south in late August. The adults will migrate several weeks before the young, who have to find their own way back to Africa.

Our thanks to Joyce Reid for the article and photos. Thanks also to Sarah Sanders for her photos. 

(*The Birds of Scotland SOC 2007)

Adult Osprey devours its fish!


Fledged junior Osprey July 2016


Adult Osprey enjoys tree top view!

SNH Appoint MacArthur Green to Carry Out Population Viability Analysis of Sula Sgeir Gannet

Every year there is a harvest of pre-fledged northern gannets, known as gugas, from the island of Sula Sgeir. Questions have been asked about the sustainability of the Sula Sgeir gannet population given the current level of harvesting permitted.

SNH has concluded that the current level of harvest is not likely to affect the long term sustainability of the Sula Sgeir gannet population. 

To read the report in full, please see here:

Effects of Marine Renewable Energy Developments on Seabirds

A new paper has been published in Marine Policy by Helen Wade, EA Masden, AC Jackson and Prof. Robert Furness, considering the uncertainty in data regarding effects of marine renewable energy developments (MREDs), and those of vessels and helicopters, on seabirds.

The indices considered in this publication present important information for the application of vulnerability indices ranking seabird vulnerability to MREDs. Uncertainty measures can inform MRED impact assessment processes by identifying species of potential concern that lack data, and contribute to identifying post-consent monitoring and strategic research priorities. The combined uncertainty and vulnerability indices could be employed to complement MRED site characterisation and inform sectoral plans by identifying areas supporting species that may be sensitive to MREDs. Given the evolving understanding of species’ responses to MREDs, these indices should be viewed as a work in progress and would benefit from regular consolidation with new information.