Godin and Longue Pierre, Herm
21 April 2013
After last year’s very early breeding season, I had hoped to get out to The Humps, north of Herm to check on the Great Cormorant colony within the first ten days of April this year. When we made the first visit in 2012 on 13th April there were already 20+ very large chicks wandering around on Godin, with some already on the wing! Poor weather with rough seas prevented such an early visit this year, and it was 21st April before we could make our first trip to the colony.
Chris Mourant was fairly relaxed believing that the cold spring would have delayed the birds in their breeding efforts this year...but of course you never know until you look. My brother, Chris, took Chris Mourant, Catherine, Sophie and me out to The Humps in his RIB. Leaving St Peter Port Harbour at half-tide we arrived at Godin at the perfect time for an easy landing with almost no swell.
Chris Mourant led the way up onto the islet, but he soon returned having counted 11 Great Cormorant nests in the main part of the colony – all containing eggs. He saw no chicks, although the nests on the NE side weren’t checked. In total he estimated 15 Great Cormorant nests on Godin.
At least 40 Great Black-backed Gulls were in the air over the island, but no Common Guillemots were seen.
We motored across to Longue Pierre, where we could see a few adult Great Cormorants on the top of the islet. Chris, Catherine, Sophie and I landed and made our way quickly to the top, where the Cormorants were a little more advanced with the nesting. The largest two chicks were about half-grown, but we managed to colour ring a total of ten birds on the islet from the 17 nests observed.
This year, as in a few previous years, the colony of c 35 pairs has split with roughly half of the breeding birds on Godin and half on Longue Pierre. There were a few Shag nests containing one or two eggs, but no full clutches yet, and several nests contained no eggs at all. It did not look like a busy year for European Shag on either of the Humps visited. More concerning was the absence of Common Guillemots on Longue Pierre. Perhaps we are a little early, but it was rather odd to be on Longue Pierre without hearing the auks under the large boulders.
After this successful visit to Longue Pierre we took a quick look at Grande Amfroque – not landing but circling the island at idling speed enjoying the sight of five Grey Seals.
Paul K Veron
22 April 2013