15 April 2014

With Paul Fisher, RSPB over, the Environment Department had arranged to meet Dr Peter Ogden on Jethou. I joined the trip to get some early indications of the 2014 seabird breeding season, particularly given the massive regional seabird wreck of February 2014. We left St Peter Port Harbour on board the Jethou Flyer at 0800, with a brisk easterly blowing. Bill Bayley met us on the quay and we walked up to the house to enjoy tea and a chat with Dr Ogden.

Afterwards we walked a clockwise circuit of the island on the lower path in glorious sunshine and blue skies. Wild Bluebells added a blaze of colour in several places along the path.

Crevichon and Burner Beaches both looked to have their usual Herring Gull colonies. Birds were not observed sitting on nests yet, but clearly many of the pairs are now holding their territories as the 2014 breeding season gets underway. A couple of pairs of Northern Fulmars were on the first cliff as usual. As we approached the south-eastern end of the island a male Peregrine Falcon swooped in and over the wood, soon to be followed by two Common Buzzards soaring over the trees.

Three Razorbills were in the water off Grande Fauconniere, where at least six pairs of Northern Fulmars appear to be nesting this year. Fauconniere did not appear to have many breeding Shags this year (perhaps 20 pairs visible from Jethou). With the seawater still very very murky, we are not expecting a good breeding season for inshore fish feeders like Shags. A few pairs of Great Black-backed Gulls could be seen sitting on nests on Grande Fauconniere.

The Great Black-backed Gull colony of six-eight pairs was in place on the south-west corner. European Shags looked to be in a number of the usual spots on the western coastline of Jethou, so it will be very interesting to get an actual nest count later in the season, and some idea of productivity. The Herring Gull colonies here appeared to be at usual strength (c 30+ pairs plus).

From the south-west corner we saw two (small) Bottle-nosed Dolphins feeding for 10+ minutes quite close in (within 150 metres). The dolphins surfaced many times, albeit briefly, over this period.

No Puffins were recorded on this trip, although Dan (Environment Guernsey) had reported  a raft of 16 off the south-western corner on 09 April 2014.

We then completed the circuit past the house and back to the jetty in time to board the Jethou Flyer back to Guernsey, departing at 11.00 a.m. Passing Crevichon we saw the Egrets back in the elder trees (eight to ten birds visible).

This was a valuable visit to get an early indication of the 2014 seabird breeding season. No close visits to the breeding beaches or islets were made, but some very useful first impressions were recorded. At the same time six colour ringed Herring Gulls were recorded, and many more (and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls) seen but at too great a range to read the codes through binoculars. It would definitely be valuable to make a recording trip with the telescope to try to identify the breeding sites for some more of the gulls that we have colour ringed in Guernsey.

Our thanks to Dr Ogden, and Island staff, for enabling us to continue our long time-series seabird monitoring on Jethou.



15 April 2014