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The Shiant isles remain free of invasive rodent predators, according to an annual survey just completed by specialist researchers.

The survey marks five years since the Shiants were declared rat-free in March 2018, following a four-year project to restore them as a secure haven for nesting seabirds.

At that time there had been no rats recorded there for two years, the internationally agreed criterion for rat-free status.

The EU-funded Shiants seabird recovery project started in 2014, a partnership between the Nicolson family, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland.

In March researchers from Biosecurity for LIFE spent time checking on surveillance stations set around the islands, at the same time training new fieldworkers in their work on islands around the UK, helping protect seabirds from the introduction of invasive predators.

On Thursday (6 April) they tweeted: “We leave the Shiant Isles today with rodent free results at all surveillance stations, which is great biosecurity news for all the seabirds, which are starting to return.

“Rafts of puffins and thousands of razorbills seen arriving today can come ashore to breed safely here.”

The pictures show a puffin resting on the Shiants (RSPB Scotland/Jim Richardson) and fieldworkers checking surveillance stations this year (Biosecurity for LIFE).