Fair play Steve Berry's Manxie was the first of the year. Perhaps i should have said ours was the first of the spring and as several others were noted during the voyage, perhaps the vanguard of the annual round Atlantic tour, rather than an odd bird floating about.
"The powers that be" Natural Resources Wales" have proposed "Special Areas of Protection" for sea birds in Welsh waters. It seems to me there has been a failure to recognise the expertise and huge knowledge base of organised amateur naturalists and birdwatchers.
The three proposed (SPAs) are designed to protect threatened species of seabirds, particularly migratory birds. The first is an extension of an existing SPA at Anglesey to protect breeding tern colonies and their foraging area. The second is in Northern Cardigan Bay to protect the wintering population of red throated diver. The third is an extension to an existing SPA at Skomer and Skokholm for Manx shearwater and Atlantic Puffin. Skomer and Skokholm already protect large populations of Manx shearwater, less black backed gull and Atlantic Puffin. The new SPA would include the islands themselves and further large sea areas extending from the Pembrokeshire coast.
It seems odd that the area around the Smalls where over the past fifteen years we have encountered huge congregations of rafting Manx Shearwaters, has been overlooked.
Probably the most glaring omission is the fact that a significant percentage of the population of one of the worlds rarest and endangered sea birds the Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus is monitored passing Strumble Head and has been for a couple of decades.