Godin and Galeu

28 June 2008

Chris Mourant, Catherine Kinnersly and Paul Veron met Tara at 1830 for a trip out to The Humps. The blast out cleared the cobwebs, and we were soon in position off Godin. When we had passed the island on our way to Alderney on 20th June it looked quite bare of birds but tonight a party of 20+ Cormorants were on the islet. We managed to coral eight very large birds for ringing, together with two more young that were still in the nest. There was also a nest with three eggs. Most of the birds in the coral were fully feathered, and very feisty. We suspected that these birds had already fledged, but were returning to the islet to roost.
Whatever, the ringing of another 10 Cormorants (to go with the 11 ringed on 17 May) was a big success, and it also altered our view that the season had only been very mediocre for this species.  A week or so earlier Jamie Hooper had ringed 12 Cormorants on Lihoumel, and noticed that in addition to Wrasse these birds were feeding on Rudd. This freshwater feeding no doubt helps to explain the success of the Lihou birds in a year when very poor visibility in the sea was making it hard for inshore seabirds to breed successfully.
After releasing the Cormorants from the coral, we scoured the island’s lush mallow and other vegetation in search of Great Black-backed Gull chicks, and were delighted to find eight very well grown youngsters. We also saw a couple of other gull chicks that were too small to ring, but there were no signs of any Guillemots.  Five Shag chicks were old enough to ring, and we saw a couple of other nests with tiny young or eggs, which were still being incubated.
Catherine looked under the rock on the north side of the island where there is usually a Puffin nesting, and duly spotted a single white Puffin egg. We had seen one adult Puffin on the sea just off Godin as we approached.
After returning to the Island Rib boat, Tara took us the short distance to Galeu, where we rowed ashore again. Although there were several pairs of Great Black-backed Gulls overhead we could only find one chick on the islet, although six Shag chicks were large enough to ring, and there were a couple of other nests with tiny chicks or eggs. It seems that some Shag had laid eggs again very late and with the seawater finally beginning to clear maybe these birds would be able to find enough fish to raise their young successfully? Whatever, it was great to see these birds trying so hard to raise young in what has clearly been another disastrous season for them.
With the seabird work on the Humps completed for another year Tara pointed the Island Rib towards St Peter Port and opened the throttles. We passed close to the Rockery, but there were no signs of any tern activity this year.  Again many thanks to Tara for a really enjoyable and surprisingly successful late season trip to Godin and Galeu.