25 June 2009

 The second seabird ringing visit to Jethou in 2009 was focused primarily on colour ringing Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gull pulli.  The team was reduced to three with Jamie Hooper, Catherine and Paul Veron (Chris having other commitments on the day).  The Jethou work boat ferried the team across at 08.00.  With relatively calm seas and cloudy skies beginning to clear, the day looked like it could end up being very hot.

 The island looked as lovely as ever but with low water not until mid-afternoon, the team was limited to land based ringing until more foreshore was revealed and so headed for the west end of Jethou.  Jamie carried out a quick check for butterflies in the open grassland at the centre of the island but found only small coppers, red admiral and meadow brown.  The near “mythical silver-studded blue continued to evade him!

 The team descended down the rocky vein to the footpath that circumvented the island, discovering several Shag nests that had not been previously ringed.  They then worked along the foreshore ringing Shag pulli as well as 3 Herring Gulls and 1 Lesser Black Backed Gull pulli.  Jamie discovered an Oystercatcher chick hiding under a rocky crevice, the tell tale signs of limpet shells were scattered around and the parents alarm calls piercing the air.  The second rocky vein up to the centre of the island was then investigated for further Shag pulli culminating in a total of 26 shag pulli ringed.  (dead shag recovery??)

 The team then headed back to the slipway for refreshments in the sunshine.  After half an hour and with the tide now falling fast, they decided that sufficient beach was now available to safely look for gull pulli along the beach beneath the burner.  A total of seven Herring Gull chicks were ringed along this beach and a very small Oystercatcher chick too small to ring was also discovered by Catherine, extremely well camouflaged amongst the stones. 

 The team then progressed along the beach opposite Crevichon, ringing a total of seven Shag pulli and 17 Herring Gulls with an additional seven Herring Gulls ringed on the beach beneath the summer house.   The last beach to be covered on Jethou was the beach opposite Fauconniere which resulted in 15 Herring Gull pulli and one adult Herring Gull which had been caught in finishing line around its leg.  The line was removed and due to the swelling only a colour ringed placed on the other leg, bill measurements taken to identify the sex (female) before the bird was released.  A Herring Gull chick further up the beach was likewise entangled and again released from certain death.  Both birds had probably only been caught in the line for the last day or so judging by their condition.  A total of one Shag pulli were ringed on this beach although note was made of the contents of the majority of the 10 marked nests – most of which now had very large, already ringed Shag pulli.  It was interesting to note one nest (44) which had a dead unringed adult on the nest and one dead pulli (ringed on previous visit F38547)  and probably one other dead pulli (although Jamie could not retrieve the bird from under the rock). One nest was empty and one nest could not be located. 

 The team headed back to the slipway for brief liquid refreshments at 13.00 before racing over to Crevichon to ring the Little Egret pulli in the quarry.  The first Elder tree approached from the shore held young too small to ring.  Three dead pulli were noted on the ground in front of these trees.  The Elder further inside the quarry held three Little Egrets of suitable size to ring.  A clutch of Partridge chicks was also observed amongst the stones with both parents returning after the initial disturbance.  A total of nine Shag pulli were ringed on Crevichon as well as one Great Black Backed Gull which was fitted with a colour ring. Catherine also noted the contents of some of the marked Shag nests but with time extremely limited only 13 of the 40 were located.  Most now contained large pulli, some of which were already ringed.

 The team then headed back to Jethou in order to catch the work boat back to Guernsey.  A very low tide made for an interesting departure from the dory with Catherine getting her feet wet in order to push the boat out – thanks guys!

 Another excellent seabird trip to Jethou with a total of 106 seabirds ringed including 39 Herring Gulls colour ringed plus one Great Black Backed Gull and one Lesser Black Backed Gull colour ringed as part of Paul’s Gull Colour ringing scheme and useful data collected on Shag productivity.  Many thanks to Dr Ogden and his staff for accommodating the seabird team’s activities.


Catherine Veron

26 June 2009