Channel Island birds observed for renewable energy study

Les Etac gannetry Previous research has indicated there are more than 7,000 gannets in and around Alderney

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Habits of Channel Island seabirds will be monitored for three years as part of an investigation into renewable energy.

The Alderney Wildlife Trust is looking into the feeding and foraging patterns of shags and gannets.

Both wind and tidal power generation are being investigated by Channel Island governments.

A study by the University of Liverpool published in 2012 found that Alderney's gannet population could be adversely affected by renewable energy.

The birds will be tracked using GPS technology. Roland Gauvin from the trust said it was an important project.

He said: "The idea is that over a three year period to study the movements of shags and gannets around the island to see where they feed, forage, how deep they go and what they are catching.

"It would give us an idea of what our seabirds are doing in relation to what might be about to happen and where generators could go."

The Alderney Wildlife Trust said it picked the shag and gannet to monitor because they are both common in the islands and forage in different ways.

The shag tends to feed close to its nesting site and the gannet can travel well over 200km on a single foraging trip.

Both birds fly between roosting and feeding sites and capture their prey by diving in the water column.

Mr Gauvin said: "This means that they could encounter wind turbines while flying above the water and tidal turbines while foraging below the water."

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