Habitats: The natural cacophony of gannets in Cape St. Mary’s

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CBC Information is deepening its dedication to local weather change protection with a particular ongoing collection, referred to as “Our Altering Planet”, that explores the challenges the environment is going through and the options wanted to make a distinction for future generations.

At Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, you may hear the cacophony first. 

Northern gannets — 1000’s of them — breed right here, and so they’re all screeching. The sound bounces off the cliffs and sea stacks.

“They will acknowledge the decision of their companions and chicks,” stated Chris Mooney, a park interpretation technician.  “You will see the identical pairs in the identical spot 12 months after 12 months.”

Mooney stated the gannets are increasing their colony.

“When it grew to become a protected reserve in 1983, the gannets have been simply nesting on this one sea stack, however the colony is shifting,” he stated. “That is why reserves are so essential. If we weren’t right here, folks could be using their ATVs by way of this space, or photographers could be climbing the cliffs to get a greater image.”

The scent is the following factor you may discover — Cape St. Mary’s has a really distinct odour.

“We all the time inform folks that they will hear the birds, then they will scent the birds.” Mooney stated. “That scent is the chook guano. It is a pure fertilizer and simply chock filled with nitrogen and different vitamins.”

Lastly, in the event you go to the precise time of 12 months, you may see the gannets.

The birds are gorgeous. They’ve snowy plumage, black wingtips, and hyper-crisp yellow heads, and so they’ll begin to arrive again on the Cape St. Mary’s web site quickly.

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“Gannets fly again to the cape round Paddy’s Day,” stated Mooney. “They have a tendency to stay round to early autumn.”

Whereas gannet populations aren’t declining proper now, there’s rising concern that local weather change will have an impact.

“We’ll be one of many first websites to note as a result of we are the southernmost breeding colony. There is a concern that with hotter waters, their prey will transfer too removed from their nests,” Mooney stated.

So how can these vital habitats be helped? Mooney has some concepts.

“One factor you are able to do is go to Cape St. Mary’s. The extra folks see of those incredible birds, the extra inclined and they will be in conserving house for these species.”

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