L’Illa de l’Aire is home to the only known colony on our island of Paiños, a small seabird of only 14cm and less than 30g, which nests in tiny corners in the rocks. They only touch land to breed, and do so at night to avoid predators. Their diet is based on fish larvae and zooplankton.
Paiño chick only a few days old. Adults leave them alone and only visit at night to feed them. You see clearly the holes on the beak that these birds use to excrete salt, typical of procellariformes.
The Mediterranean population is reduced to very few colonies spread between the Iberean coast, and islands surrounding Ibiza, Mallorca and Cabrera, and it has been recently discovered that these Paiños go on extremely long journeys during incubation periods for food. In other colonies in the Mediterranean they travel more than 500kms towards Northern Africa, tremendous journeys for creatures of their size.
In order to find out more about where our Menorcan Paiños travel and their feeding grounds, Santi Catchot, with the support of SOM and Menorca Preservation, has undertaken a project in which tiny waterproof GPS devices were made specifically for these small birds, and placed to track their travels.
The first 4 trips have shown truly spectacular results, with 333 locations, and a maximum distance from the colony of almost 400 km. The average total distance for each trip is about 1,159 km in only 3-4 days.
Interesting activities were detected in the deep areas of the canyons to the S-SE and NE of Menorca, important feeding areas during the incubation period.
We have therefore discovered that our Paiños move through different feeding areas than the other colonies in the Balearics and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.
Many thanks to the volunteers who have been part of the project, for their interest, time and dedication, we can’t wait to learn more!