Jim Lennon from the Shiants Auk Ringing Group writes:
Ringing seabirds can be mucky and challenging work, especially when you’re ducking under a rock to reach a Shag chick, while keeping an eye out for its protective parents (often the croaking male). However, this is soon forgotten when you receive news of one of them nearly 31 years later!
Shag chick 1227282 was one of a brood of three ringed on the Shiants Isles, Western Isles, on 30 June 1985 by Ms Sam Powell, a trainee ringer from South Wales working with the Shiants Auk Ringing Group. A total of 725 pulli from 377 broods was ringed on the Shiants that year. Most of the subsequent recoveries were of birds that perished within the first 12 months, a few survived for four or five years and an exceptional bird was found dead after nine years.
But 1227282 outlived them all by a country mile. For the next 30 years following ringing, it most likely spent its life breeding on the Shiants and in the waters of West Scotland, but we’ll never know for sure as it was never heard of again until John Taynton, a RSPB worker on the Shiants, found it freshly dead on 26 April 2016 i.e. a life span of 30 years 302 days.
According to the BTO’s latest longevity list (2014), this makes the Shiants bird the oldest ringed Shag in Britain & Ireland, and also in Europe (see Euring), raising the record by nearly a year.
The Euring information is not updated as regularly as the BTOs longevity lists because it needs to access all the data from all the Euring ringing schemes and this can take some time. It currently indicates that a 34 yr old bird from the Shiants is Europe's oldest Puffin but two just shy of 36 years old and one almost 37 years old, are listed on the BTO longevity records site.