I am a seabird ecologist with particular interests in foraging ecology, movement behaviour, zoology and anthropogenic impacts on species and habitats. However, I am fascinated by all aspects of ornithology and conservation.
Currently, I am a post-doc at the Environmental Research Institute working on two NPA projects: Circular Ocean and APP4SEA. For Circular Ocean, I was recently involved in a review to provide a baseline assessment of current knowledge concerning the impact of marine plastic on seabirds in northern Europe and the Arctic region; and I am now focusing on how we can improve our knowledge of nest incorporation of plastic by seabirds. As part of APP4SEA I am working on a package focused on the ecological impact of oil spills on seabirds.
My first move into the seabird world was during my Masters where I got to spend the summer on the beautiful Calf of Man, helping to investigate the impact of rats on the island’s seabirds as part of a planned rat eradication. That led to my PhD at the University of Glasgow investigating spatial variation in Herring Gull traits across south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland, focusing on the gulls’ eggs, resource use and foraging behaviours – carrying out fieldwork on several islands and coastal colonies.
As a birder and bird ringer, most of my spare time is spent outdoors, especially along the stunning Caithness coast of north Scotland. My love of birds and science has also led me to be involved with the BOU‘s Engagement Committee as a Social Media Support Officer and with British Birds as a director focusing on communication and social media.
I’m a post-doctoral ecologist with a passion for seabirds. I studied Zoology at Cambridge before completing my PhD on gulls at Cardiff, during which I spent several months each year on the small Welsh island of Flat Holm and fell in love with island life. Since this time, I’ve become a bit of an island bagger and been lucky enough to work on several remote and spectacular British islands.
I joined the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in late 2010, as a research ecologist in the Wetland and Marine Team. My most exciting work has involved tracking seabirds, primarily Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and looking at how they interact with wind farms. My colleagues and I have deployed state-of-the-art GPS tags to unpick the fine details of where and when these birds travel and how they use their environment. You can see a summary of some of this work in this feature I recorded for the BBC.
I also love communicating science and now work almost half-time as science communications officer at BTO. I regularly do radio and TV interviews and write up features for our website and popular publications. I am a licensed bird ringer and this sometimes comes in handy when combining my two roles as you can see from this piece featuring the now famous Tesco Pied Wagtail! Most of my communications time is spent managing our social media accounts (including @_BTO) where I focus on finding great bird and wildlife-related science stories, but I also get a lot out of engaging with our really active Twitter community of 35,000+ followers. I am also a committee member of, and manage social media for, the Seabird group (@TheSeabirdGroup), a registered charity founded in 1966 to promote and help coordinate the study and conservation of seabirds. When I’m not working or tweeting, I might well be found listening to BBC 6 Music with my nose buried in a novel. You can find me @viola_rs.
Holly is studying seabird migration and behavioural ecology. She has spent the last four years working with UK seabirds as part of her DPhil in the Department of Zoology, Oxford University. This combines traditional ornithological field work techniques with new spatial and behavioural logging technology.
The research has mainly taken place on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, but Holly has also worked on a range of other islands on the west coast of the UK. She uses a range of biologging methods (GPS, geolocation and TDR) to track the movement and behaviour of several seabird species, including puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes.
Holly’s current work is on the migration behaviour of the Manx shearwater, Puffinus puffinus. The focus of her study is on how the timing and outcome of different parts of the annual cycle influence behaviour in subsequent years.
For more information about her current work go to http://oxnav.zoo.ox.ac.uk/hollykirk