Within the frame of action C6.1 “Restoration of seabird habitat on islets”, the LIFE IP AZORES NATURA project is currently installing artificial nests for two species of storm-petrel (Hydrobates castro and Hydrobates monteiroi), Bulwer’s petrel (Bulweria bulwerii) and Audubon’s shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri). The installation of artificial nests on the islets will contribute to the increase of populations by increasing the availability of nesting habitat, protecting target species from predators, decreasing interspecific competition and mitigating the effects of adverse weather conditions on nesting success. The artificial nests serve not only as a refuge, but also to facilitate the monitoring of these species within the frame of action D5.1 “Monitoring terrestrial habitats, species and conservation issues”.

For this purpose, the nature wardens and operational assistants of the Graciosa Nature Park transported the artificial nests, made of clay pots and thus constituting a very fragile load, to the islets of Baixo and Praia. Recently, a team from SPEA (Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds) and DRAM (Regional Directorate for Maritime Affairs) proceeded with the installation and marking of these nests on Baixo islet. To increase the probability of occupation of the artificial nests, droppings and feathers from the colony will be placed around the new nests and an autonomous sound system will be installed that will reproduce the vocalizations of the target species throughout their nesting season.

In the coming weeks, a team from SPEA, DRAM and DRAAC (Regional Directorate for Environment and Climate Change), in collaboration with the Natural Parks, will continue to install the remaining nests on Praia Islet (Graciosa) and Vila Islet (Santa Maria).

Photos: Ana Raposo e Luís Aguiar