University of Nebraska Medical Center

‘Heart-breaking’ news as avian flu ravages seabird colonies at sites across Wales


Avian flu has devastated seabird colonies at sites across Wales this summer, according to the National Trust. It said more than 7,000 seabirds had died of the disease at five of its sites across the UK in 2023. Only one of its sites was affected in 2022.

In Wales, the worst-affected was in Anglesey where more than 1,200 dead birds were collected at Cemlyn and which is one of the UK’s most important sites for Sandwich terns. National Trust rangers collected the carcasses of 711 Sandwich terns, 141 black-headed gulls, 133 common terns, 77 Arctic terns and 205 birds which were unidentifiable.

In terms of relative impact on the breeding adult populations, it is the common and Arctic terns which have been affected the most, losing 55% of the common terns and 40% of the Arctic terns, while Sandwich terns lost around half of this year’s chicks.

In south Wales, a total of 201 dead birds were collected across three Pembrokeshire beaches, cared for by the National Trust, with guillemots being impacted the most. Just over 1,000 birds have been recorded by all agencies together in the region, with numbers now steadily decreasing.

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