A weather forecast showing light showers for the morning clearing to sunnier spells was good enough for the seabird ringing team to venture forth to Jethou on Tuesday 9th June 2009. The team consisted of La Societe Guernesiaise members Jamie Hooper, Chris Mourant, Paul and Catherine Veron who caught the 08.00 boat across to Jethou courtesy of Jethou Island. On arrival the team were welcomed with coffee with Dr Peter Ogden and Annie. The team explained their intentions for the day which as well as ringing seabirds also included the Shag productivity project which Paul was keen to run on Jethou and the Humps to assess how successful the breeding birds were over a 5 year period. The last few years had proved very poor for Shag productivity and the team felt it was now very important to monitor in a scientific manner productivity of 100 identifiable nests. It was proposed that plastic numbers be attached to each monitored nest. Dr Ogden was supportive of the project and asked for any information relating to Jethou to be relayed to him, which the team were more than happy to do.
With the tide slowly falling, and the rain holding off, the team set off towards Grande Fauconniere. A colour ringed Herring Gull was noted on the beach with the burner – 5.AA6 which the team had ringed the previous weekend as part of the cannon netting session at Chouet landfill, Guernsey run by the North Thames Gull Group. The sighting of colour ringed gulls on their nesting grounds is particularly valuable. A colour ringed Lesser Black Backed Gull from Paul’s scheme ringed in Guernsey was unable to be read completely. It is hoped that we can track this gull (which was on its nest) during the next visit.
A number of Shag pulli were ringed along the rocky south-east coastline, but no nests were marked. A raft of a 12 puffin was seen between Jethou and Herm with 3 – 4 other birds passing by. The Lesser Black Backed Gull colony above the quarry was not so busy this year with more Herring Gulls present than normal. When the team reached Grande Fauconniere beach it worked along the top of the beach marking Shag nests and ringing pulli where possible. Good numbers of successful breeding birds were present along here with 10 nests marked (numbers 41 – 50) and a total of five Shag pulli was ringed. A number of Herring Gull pulli were also present amongst the boulders although not yet big enough to ring (bar one). There was worrying evidence of the none native Hotentot Fig present along this coast line, which some of the gulls were using for nesting material. This is an invasive species which once established, out competes native flora resulting in vast swathes of this succulent which is of very little benefit to wildlife.
At the south west corner, we ringed a further ten Shag pulli and noted evidence of a Peregrine kill. One Great Black Backed Gull nestling was also ringed here.
At the west end further nests were marked and a total of 36 Shag pulli was ringed. A further Great Black Backed Gull pullus was ringed. The team then returned back to the boat house enjoying spectacular views of 40 plus painted lady butterflies on the Red Valerian by the House.
After a quick coffee and sandwich in the sunshine, the team headed off to Grande Fauconniere which had just dried. Jamie managed to corner an adult Fulmar sitting on its egg – ringed with D4541. A total of 36 Shag pulli was ringed and a further ten nests were marked. An adult Razorbill was also ringed – K10201 which had a half grown chick. Good numbers of Razorbills again seemed to be present on the islet. A species similar to Firebug was noted on the islet.
With the tide now low, the team focused its efforts on Crevichon and marking the remaining 30 Shag nests. A total of 47 Shag pulli was ringed on this islet along with 13 Great Black Backed Gull chicks, seven of which were colour ringed (yellow plastic ring with black code). Two adult shags were caught in the quarry on Crevichon: - F27559 was found on its nest by Jamie. It had originally been ringed on 17 June 2004 by Jamie on Jethou. F21376 was caught by Paul below the Elders in the quarry. It too had been ringed as a nestling on Jethou by Jamie (in June 2001). The Little Egrets appeared to be doing very well with 15 nests in the Elders within the quarry. Two small young were colour ringed – KX and KZ. The Little Egrets’ breeding season is clearly well-spread with a wide range with nests containing eggs, while others had very small young. There were also a few nestlings that were almost ready to fledge.
The team was delighted with the results of the Jethou ringing with a grand total of 154 Shag pulli ringed. After two years of no notable Shag breeding, this is an immense relief for the Bailiwick’s seabird fortunes. It also fairs considerably better than 2006 when a total of 90 Shag was ringed on Jethou. Most of the Shag seem to have good productivity levels with three young present in the nest, again a favourable sign.
10th June 2009