With this being the third season since buying our 4.2 metre bombard C4, Catherine and Paul Veron finally plucked up the courage to give it a run out to the Humps north of Herm with Sophie Veron, Jamie Hooper, Michelle Stanford and Chris Mourant forming the rest of the Seabird Team aboard. Launching at Pembroke Bay at 14.00 we were soon heading east to pass Beaucette Marina and Bordeaux before speeding out across the Little Russell to Godin.
The visit was timed to coincide with slack water (minimal tidal current), particularly as this was our first visit under our own steam. Paul and Sophie remained in the boat while the rest of the party were landed on the rocky shoreline. The first birds encountered were two Shag pulli hiding under boulders on the foreshore, which had already been ringed on our first visit on 24th May 2009. The team circumvented them and headed towards the first Shag nest where the two young were ringed. With several Shag nests unringed, the team decided to stick together and initially circle around the island to minimise disturbance. A total of 21 Shag pulli were ringed, the majority along the outer edges of the island, although the usual large cluster of rocks at the highest point of the island was well used by nesting Shag. Four Great Cormorant pulli were still present although unfortunately no suitable rings had been brought so the nestlings were left undisturbed. The usual Puffin burrow was occupied with the clever inhabitant too deep for ringers to reach although the bird could easily be seen from the entrance to the burrow. A young Great Black Backed Gull was caught on the foreshore near the Puffin burrow and colour ringed.
Back in the boat, Paul and Sophie were kept entertained by a large bull Grey Seal which watched with interest from a distance.
The ringing team finished off their search of the island with one Herring Gull which was metal ringed only and another three Great Black Backed Gull pulli, two of which were colour ringed. Unfortunately there was insufficient time to check the vegetation on the islet which usually hosts the majority of Great Black Backed Gull pulli. However there was just enough time to ring two Guillemot adults which were guarding two small nestlings which were too small to ring and an egg.
With the swell beginning to rise and not wishing to prolong the visit for the welfare of the birds, the team returned to the boat, and Paul drove around into the lagoon between Godin and Galeu where another Grey Seal came even closer to the boat to take a look at us. We beached the boat on the sandy shore, leaving Catherine to guard it while the rest of the team headed for the small amount of dry land on this islet. Given the tiny size of Galeu it was perhaps surprising that the team managed to ring 37 Shag pulli, along with 3 Great Black Backed Gull pulli. Jamie managed to catch an adult Shag in the vegetation which was ringed F13936. This bird had been ringed as a nestling on Crevichon, Jethou by Paul on 10th June 1991 – so it is quite an old bird, in fact older than Sophie who photographed it. Jamie commented on how the winter storms had damaged the tiny storm beaches, resulting in significant erosion.
The team were also intrigued by a small flock of approximately 20 Common Terns which were settled on rocks on the periphery of Galeu. As we approached the terns took off calling noisily but a very quick inspection of the rocks revealed no signs of actual nesting activity.
With all available nestlings ringed we returned to the boat and headed back to Guernsey across the north end of Herm, taking great care to navigate the shallow channels. Again, it had been very encouraging to see Shags nesting successfully – with most nests containing two or three well-grown young.
Paul and Catherine Veron
29th June 2009