Bird Ringing at Cape Wrath

In tandem with activities at Foxglove the bird ringers have developed a long association with the Naval Bombardment and Air Weapons Range at Cape Wrath on the extreme north west coast of Scotland. 

Using accommodation at Faraid Head on the promontory above Durness teams have visited the area often twice every summer to ring the seabirds along the coastline of this remote military training area.

The Cape Wrath range is not readily recognised as lying at a latitude north of Moscow and Vladivostok; taken to a western extreme it sits parallel with southern Alaska. A key factor of this inhospitable, rugged land is the diversity of flora and fauna and the huge numbers of seabirds which traditionally breed there both on the coast and inland on the lochans and peat bogs.

Over the years the abundance of the seabirds has been a topic of hot conversation with a noticeable, significant decline. The Foxglove team has ringed tens of thousands of birds in the area ranging from the small Twite and Storm-petrel to Red-throated Diver and Arctic Skua. All of the auk species have been caught in substantial numbers, and with the help of the Royal Marines and their boat crews every possible cliff and boulder field has been accessed, including the islands in Loch Eriboll.

Without doubt the recent trend in seabird productively is downwards but there have been the occasional high points and the current decline is not new, and historically, has occurred previously. The Cape Wrath experience is one never to be forgotten and the opportunity is one that all who have taken part have benefited from and enjoyed.

Details of all the seabirds ringed at Cape Wrath and the recoveries from over the 20 plus years are published annually in the Swaledale Ringing Group Report which is available from the Field Centre.

Cape Wrath Video - Bird Ringing at Cape Wrath

A selection of still photos to music

Moray Firth Dolphins Video

Dolphins photographed on the Moray Firth