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Thursday, June 10, 2010

A very busy day at the seabird colonies

Puffin on Jethou - PKV
With rain (correctly) forecast for today the available members of the Guernsey Seabird Team (Jamie and Mish Hooper, Chris Mourant and me) had to pack in visits to two of the Bailiwick’s seabird island groups yesterday. Things tend to get hectic at this time of year – trying to ensure that the monitoring and ringing activities are successfully done, while at the same time everyone has a busy day job!

With the kind permission of the owner of Jethou (Dr Peter Ogden), and his very helpful staff, we were able to visit Jethou during the day. The primary purpose was to monitor the European Shag nesting activity, although we would also note other seabird breeding productivity.

Jethou - PKV

Crevichon - PKV
In common with what we had seen in other Bailiwick colonies, the news this year is good. Nesting numbers of Shag are high, and productivity is also good, with the majority of pairs having three advanced chicks. The early season was also confirmed with the young from more than 10 nests having already fledged. 65+ active Shag nests were recorded on Crevichon islet, and there were another 30+ on the main island of Jethou. Unfortunately we ran out of time before the tidal window closed, preventing access on to the other adjacent islet of Grande Fauconniere. We estimated that there were another 30+ active Shag nests here.

Grande Fauconniere - PKV

In addition to Shag chicks the Team also ringed 27 Great Black-backed Gull chicks. I was particularly pleased to be able to fit the first 19 of my new GBBG colour rings (yellow with black code). Herring Gull chicks were also much in evidence on Jethou’s stony beaches. However, we left the vast majority of these for ringing on another visit in around two weeks’ time.

GBBG Yellow 0.AA3 - Crevichon PKV

At least seven Oystercatcher nests were seen – all with eggs. Jamie also took the opportunity to colour ring another five Little Egrets from the protected colony – making a total of 16 young ringed this year (a record).

Little Egrets - PKV

Jamie and Mishy ringing Shags - Jethou PKV

Shag chicks on Jethou - PKV
After an hour to recuperate from the strenuous activities on Jethou, Jamie, Mish and I headed out, courtesy of Dave Perrio, to The Humps north of Herm. Once again we had special permission to land on these protected islets for seabird monitoring purposes. There was only time to land on the two nearest islets – Godin and Galeu. This was very worthwhile with another nine Great Cormorants and 20 European Shag being ringed on Godin, and 34 European Shag and a single Great B B Gull on Galeu.

It had been a very hard day’s work – something that my muscles reminded me of this morning when I awoke! However, some very useful seabird monitoring data was obtained and another 216 seabirds were ringed.

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