Godin, Herm
Saturday 17 May 2008

                                    European Shag  © Vic Froome                                                    Godin   ©  PKV

Chris, Catherine and Paul joined Tara, Darcy and Louise from Island Rib at 4 pm for a trip across to Godin. The timing this year was absolutely spot on, in that we only had a one day delay to our first attempt. The trip is of course targeted at Great Cormorant, which nest earlier than other seabirds.

Exhilarating journey across slight seas to the Humps. Approaching Godin, we saw relatively few Cormorants on the rocks and a small raft of eight Common Guillemots. Darcy rowed us ashore and we carefully approached the cormorant colony. The chicks we saw were just about perfect for ringing, with none large enough to make a successful bid for the sea. The small team worked the colony, ringing eleven chicks (21 ringed on the visit on 19 May 2007). One nest with eggs and two with two/three young too small to ring. Otherwise all the young seen were ringed.

Clearly a very modest season for Cormorant, possibly with some nests washed out by the big March storm. Also worrying – only two Common Guillemot eggs seen and the main breeding areas seem empty. Also Shag poor again, although around 10 nests with eggs was better than we saw in 2007. Fishermen and divers continue to report that the sea around Guernsey is very turbid, and it seems that again many Shag may not have reached breeding condition and are therefore not nesting.

The species that seems to be doing well is Great Black-backed Gull, with c 15 nests, with several young chipping out of the eggs or just hatched. One adult was found dead having swallowed a fishhook and then been trapped by the line on the sea beet and mallow.

We flushed two Greater Whitethroats from the vegetation and one Northern Wheatear from the beach. A Grey Seal was bobbing in the sea.

It was very satisfying to get out to Godin on time and to get our first real inkling of the seabird season ahead. On the return journey we passed close to Grande Fauconniere, which appeared almost deserted of breeding Shags, as did the southern edge of Jethou. One wonders how long the species can sustain poor breeding success before the population enters a serious decline.

Many thanks again to Tara and Island Ribs for helping us with our seabird studies.