My name is Hannah Hereward, and I am a PhD student within Dr Robert Thomas’ Research on Behaviour group and the Cardiff University stormies team (Twitter: @CUStormies), at Cardiff University, Wales, UK. I originally met three of my supervisors when I joined them on a storm-petrel ringing expedition on mainland Portugal in 2016 hosted by A Rocha Portugal (https://arocha.pt/en/; https://www.arocha.org/en/projects/storm-petrels-in-portugal/). Here I gained an appreciation for the small and beautiful storm-petrel and so subsequently started my PhD in 2018 studying the breeding biology of two different storm-petrel species that breed on the same islet in the Azores, Portugal, but at different times of year. The Azorean endemic Monteiro’s storm-petrel breeds in the summer (April-September) and the more widespread Madeiran storm-petrel breeds in the winter (September-March). On this 12-hectare islet where both species breed, around 150 artificial nests were deployed from 2000 onwards (initiated by my PhD advisors/supervisors – Dr Mark Bolton and Dr Renata Medeiros Mirra and continued by Dr Joël Bried and Dr Verónica Neves), alongside the identification of used natural crevices and burrows.
Between March 2019 and March 2020, myself and a stream of amazing assistants lived on this otherwise uninhabited islet (access aided by the Graciosa Natural Park wardens and with appropriate licences) to monitor both species breeding seasons. During this time, we monitored the artificial and natural nests for adult arrivals, egg laying, egg hatching, chick growth and chick fledging occurrences, alongside any potential threats to any of these stages. This monitoring included manual nest checks as well as the use of cameras, in and near the nests. Bespoke in-nest cameras (paper currently under review) were used alongside commercially available trail cameras to monitor near-nest activities. Alongside these daily checks of artificial nests, we also undertook various other fieldwork. Including: less frequent checks of natural nests, half-night mist-netting sessions and deploying and retrieving GPS tags on parent adults (GPS tags: www.pathtrack.co.uk).
By combining these different aspects of fieldwork from the breeding seasons of both species, this research aims to shed light on conservation implications for both species, to inform management. This is especially important given the breeding population size of the endemic Monteiro’s storm-petrel (~250 pairs) and the global declining trend for the Madeiran storm-petrel. I am currently analysing and writing up the results – so you are welcome to stay tuned via twitter (@HannahHereward) or contact me via email for more information (Herewardhfr@cardiff.ac.uk).
Unless otherwise stated, all the photos were taken by Ben Porter, https://www.benporterwildlife.co.uk, twitter: @bardseyben
If you would like to see some films from the islet (filmed and produced by Ben Porter) see these links:
World of Seabirds film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QJUNrn5-rA
World of Seabirds interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcTr6dB_Ej8
Return of the Cagarro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QErodQSuqw
Flight of the Stormie chick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N9RtPao5UE
GPS tracking Madeiran Storm-petrels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq0R3zTgoLs