Record-breaking gannet arrives home

Thursday 7th July 2016

Map showing record-breaking flight path

Marathon flight highlights potential impact of proposed off-shore wind farms

A Northern Gannet from Alderney arrived home yesterday evening (Wednesday) from a foraging trip which is the longest ever recorded for an adult of its kind. Normally, gannets fly between 300-500km on a fishing expedition - but this one travelled 2,700km all the way from Alderney in the Channel Islands, up the English Channel, across the North Sea to Scandinavian waters – and back again. The intrepid gannet left Alderney on 30th June - see map showing Cosmo’s route.

Named Cosmo by the Alderney sponsor who paid for its tag, the gannet flew a total distance of over 2,700km in under a week, making this – to the knowledge of all the experts involved - the longest Northern Gannet foraging trip on record.

Cosmo’s unexpected marathon foray into Scandinavian waters has been monitored by Alderney Wildlife Trust’s Track-a-Gannet (T.A.G) project. More information and map showing Cosmo’s route here. The special tag worn by Cosmo (and other gannets among Alderney’s colony) has enabled gannet movements to be monitored under surveillance using the 3G mobile network.

Claire Thorpe of Alderney Wildlife Trust says: “This is very exciting news for our Track-a-Gannet project and the information will be hugely important for the conservation of our wonderful seabirds. Data like this is really important because it shows that we need international collaborative effort to protect our seabird species and monitor developments in the Channel and beyond.”

This is the second year that anyone has tried using live transmitters using the 3G mobile network with gannets. The media release about the launch of this ground-breaking project in 2015 is here. Tags are often lost because gannets plunge dive from great heights at up to 60 mph. Cosmo was named by an Alderney resident who sponsored its tag. It costs £400 to sponsor one of these devices.

Alderney Wildlife Trust is monitoring gannets’ foraging habits in response to the increasing number of renewable developments being planned in the Channel. Proposed wind farms such as Rampion Wind Farm off the coast of Brighton could have direct impacts on birds like gannets who fly large distances in search of food.

The mean trip distances in 2014 and 2015 for the Gannets’ foraging flights were 331 and 476km. You can follow Cosmo and the 11 other tagged birds here – T.A.G is jointly run by the Alderney Wildlife Trust (AWT), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and University of Liverpool.