27 June 2008

Due to high winds and swell, the trip to the Garden Rocks had to be postponed but Jethou was possible.  The team, consisting of Chris Mourant, Jamie Hooper, Paul Veron and Catherine Kinnersly, met at the Cambridge steps at 08:30 and were transported across to Jethou on Dr Ogden’s work boat with five members of staff. 

On arrival at Jethou, a neap tide meant that access to Crevichon was already difficult and the team had to wade across on the rising tide with boots and trousers around their necks (and a promise by one of the men to pick them up in one hour’s time in the small Dory).  Low water was at 07:15.  A total of 9 Great Black Backed pullus were found around the first hillock on Crevichon before the team ventured into the quarry in search of the Little Egrets.  The elder trees immediately under the quarry were empty of chicks, with nestlings already fledged and departed.  Approximately 4 – 6 nests were in these trees.  Instead the team concentrated its efforts on the trees opposite (closer to Guernsey) which had an estimated 20 chicks with a total of 6 – 8 nests. 

The first attempt by the team managed to round up three chicks which were colour ringed successfully, albeit that a few regurgitated shrimps were brought up in the process.  The youngsters were then released back into the elder trees.  A second attempt was then made to round up further young with Chris and Catherine working from the outside of the trees whilst Jamie and Paul worked from the middle of the trees out.   This managed to secure a further seven in total. The young ranged in size quite considerably but none were too small to ring.  After an hour, the team left the islet and returned to Jethou courtesy of one of the Jethou staff who came in the Dory to fetch us, all the time being watched by a large bull grey seal.  Catherine noted an adult ringed plover on the beach of Crevichon which escorted the team off the beach (could there be young?) and Chris managed to ring a Herring Gull amongst the boulders on his way down to the Dory. 

Two young Shag were ringed from the very few active nests. A couple of other nests had tiny young – reinforcing the evidence that the 2008 breeding season had been a virtual complete disaster for Shag.

Back on mainland Jethou, the team decided to work along the beach opposite Crevichon with one ringer always present at the shoreline to ensure no chicks ran into the sea.  A total of 47 Herring Gulls were ringed along this beach with two Shag pulli.  One Lesser Black-backed Gull was also found.  With the tide rising to full at 13:30 the team worked steadily along the coastline towards Fauconniere.  No attempt was made to check the boulders running up the hill to the top of Jethou or to check some of the more remote headlands.  An adult Shag cornered under the boulder above Fauconniere beach was narrowly missed although it was noted to be ringed.  The team conjectured that mainly the older, more experienced Shags seemed to have attempted breeding this year (as most of the adults flushed from nests appeared to be ringed). A good sweep was made of Fauconniere beach with 27 Herring Gull pulli ringed and one Lesser Black Backed Gull.  The team noted a good raft of 11 puffins offshore and 20 + Razorbills just beneath Fauconniere.  A couple of dead rats were noted in Gull nests (used to feed chicks) as well as the obligatory paper napkins and chicken bones!  Jamie found a Grayling butterfly. 

The team returned to the Harbour where they discovered two Oystercatcher chicks on the beach beneath the burner which were large enough to ring.  After this a late lunch was enjoyed at the Harbour and a brief snooze by some (i.e. Catherine!) before the beach beneath the burner was checked more thoroughly for gull chicks.  A total of 11 were ringed.

Dr Ogden then invited the team to the house for a cup of tea which was much appreciated before the return boat to Guernsey at 16:00.