Drone ban at seabird colony

The spectacular cliffs at Fowlsheugh. Picture: RSPB
The spectacular cliffs at Fowlsheugh. Picture: RSPB

A drone ban has been imposed around a popular local seabird colony.

The move follows reports that drone flying has led to eggs being knocked off cliffs at Fowlsheugh, south of Stonehaven.

Signs have been erected at the RSPB reserve warning wildlife photographers not to use the hi-tech devices.

The nature conservation charity is concerned that drones are frightening seabirds nesting on the spectacular cliffs.

Spokeswoman Kirsty Nutt said: “We put the signs up in response to a known issue with drone flying and complaints we received about some photographers getting too close to the cliff edge, putting themselves in danger and disturbing the birds.

“We realise that most people are unaware of the impact they are having but are asking everyone to be thoughtful.

“While all birds are susceptible to being disturbed, because some seabirds don’t build nests, when frightened off the cliffs they often knock their eggs off too, which means they will have failed to breed for the year.

“Many of Scotland’s seabirds are in trouble – numbers in 12 regularly-monitored species showed a 50 per cent decline in just 30 years.”

She added that they wanted people to enjoy nature, but in a manner that also protects it.

Fowlsheugh is noted for its high cliffs and huge seabird populations.

The reserve at Crawton is home to around 130,000 breeding birds.

These include guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, puffins and fulmars.

Peak breeding season is between April and late July.

Most of the nests are constructed on precarious perches nestled in the virtually vertical cliffs.