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89 %
raised of £100,000 target
by 262 supporters
Tim Birkhead avatar
Tim Birkhead

The long-term study of guillemots on Skomer Island

Fundraising for University of Sheffield

89 %
raised of £100,000 target
by 262 supporters

University of Sheffield

We help fund students and staff to equip them in their quest for knowledge

Charity Registration No. HMRC Registered


Please help me secure the future of important environmental research

In 2018 I need to raise £100,000 to secure the future of an important piece of environmental research.

The natural world is changing, largely as a result of human activity. The only way we can mitigate the effects of climate change, plastic pollution and overfishing is by understanding how our actions affect the world we live in.

My study of UK seabirds is doing just that.

Understanding environmental change

Every summer for the past 46 years, I’ve travelled to the island of Skomer, just off the Pembrokeshire coast in south-west Wales, to monitor the guillemots that breed there. I chose to study guillemots because they are the best barometer for the health of the ocean.

Over the last 46 years I have witnessed the impact of environmental change on these birds. I’ve seen oil spills kill thousands of guillemots. I’ve despaired at the way increasingly severe winter storms result in ‘wrecks’ of huge numbers of seabirds. And I’ve seen how changes in climate have resulted in Skomer’s guillemots now breeding a full two weeks earlier than they did in the 1970s.


A far-reaching impact

But this study is about much more than Skomer’s guillemots. These birds provide a unique insight into the health of the oceans and wildlife globally.

Long-term studies like mine provide unique and extraordinary insights into how populations work. They also provide a bank of data essential for interpreting future changes.

When I started this study climate change was barely known in the way it is now. It is inevitable that new threats to the natural world will emerge in the future. The data from my study will help us to identify and understand those threats at an early stage and, crucially, enable us to tackle them sooner.

Please help today

Four years ago, the Welsh government withdrew the funding that I had previously relied upon for this vital research. Since then, the project has continued only because of generous donations from people who care about protecting our planet. I am truly grateful to everyone who has contributed so far.

I am retiring in December 2018 and before then, I am determined to secure the study’s long-term future. To do this, I need to raise £100,000 to ensure this important research can continue for the next 15 years.

That’s why I’m asking for your help. Please give what you can to play your part in protecting our natural world.

Thank you for supporting this very special long-term environmental study. 

If you have any questions about the study, please contact

Watch our videos

The Guillemots of Skomer Island: a look at a long-term population study

The evolution of egg shape in birds

Nature magazine article

Guardian article


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  • Tim Birkhead with Guillemot chick
  • Tim Birkhead with guillemot chicks
  • David Attenborough and Tim Birkhead +8