Accurately predicting the impact of offshore wind farms (OWFs) on seabirds continues to pose a significant consenting risk for their development in the UK and Europe, due to a lack of sufficient knowledge on seabird interactions with offshore wind turbines. In turn this prevents an accurate assessment of ornithological impacts, leading to precautionary and conservative assessments which are likely to overstate the effects of OWFs on seabird populations.
The aims of this Project are to collect evidence on seabird flight patterns and behavioural responses to offshore wind turbines, with the ultimate objective of informing and refining predictive models for collision risk assessments.
The focus is on seabird flight behaviour during the breeding period and post-breeding period, i.e. during the period when seabirds are commuting from their breeding colonies to their offshore feeding areas, and in particular for the target species: northern gannet (hereafter ‘gannet’), blacklegged kittiwake (hereafter ‘kittiwake’) and large gulls (herring gull, lesser black-backed gull and great black-backed gull).
The main objectives were to collect species-specific data on three-dimensional (3-D) flight behaviour to document:
• Micro-avoidance behaviour – flight behaviour within and in the immediate vicinity of individual wind turbine rotor swept areas, including flight speeds and flight heights, and collision events; and
• Meso-avoidance behaviour – flight behaviour within and in the immediate vicinity of the wind farm, including flight speeds and flight heights.
This annual report evaluates the data collected during the 2020 breeding season.