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Sunday, June 26, 2011

20 Year Old Great Black-backed Gull

Summer arrived in style today, with clear blue skies (after early morning mist) and very warm temperatures. Courtesy of Dave Perrio - Chris Mourant, Michelle Hooper and I made our second and final seabird monitoring trip of 2011 to The Humps north of Herm. Special permission is required to land on these islets during the seabird breeding season.
In the limited time available we were able to land briefly on Longue Pierre and Godin - where we were able to confirm the early and successful breeding season for European Shag and Great Cormorant. Although there were a few youngsters still in the nest (and six Shag were ringed) the vast majority of the birds had already fledged. It was also very pleasing to see that the Common Guillemot have been successful so far. We did not approach the breeding boulders as there were many adults present, and we could hear chicks communicating with the adults - but we would estimate 30+ pairs on Longue Pierre and 10+ on Godin - many of which had chicks.
For me the highlight was the ten Great Black-backed Gull chicks colour ringed. One tinge of sadness was the discovery of a dead GBBG, which carried a metal ring E4778. I later learnt that this gull had been ringed by me as a chick on this very islet in June 1991 - making the gull 20+ when it died. I can but hope that this old gull managed to breed successfully over many years - passing its genes to many young gulls over the 15 or so breeding seasons that it would have had. It is very interesting too that it was clearly breeding on its natal islet - even though it is tiny.
Longue Pierre 
Herm from Godin 
Chris and Mish ringing GBBG Yellow 0.VV2 Longue Pierre
GBBG Yellow 0.VV1 Longue Pierre

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