Lihou, Guernsey

17 July 2014

Chris Mourant, Phil Alexander, Carolyn Brouard and I crossed the causeway for our last seabird monitoring visit to Lihou for this season late on yet another very fine, warm sunny afternoon. Just as in the previous afternoon, when I’d done a TV interview on the seabird breeding season, there were lots of fledged and fledging Herring Gulls and a few GBBGs on the low water mark, and far down the beaches. It’s always great to see so many young gulls making it this far. What was a little disturbing was the high number of unringed birds…you’d have thought we’d done a better job at ringing the chicks!

Of course with a very small team it is inevitable that you miss lots of chicks as they hide in the rocks. We also knew that this year our main visit was timed awkwardly in that the main colonies were covered only once, but there were lots of chicks too small on that visit to colour ring. On the critical visits we also had very small teams, so there were very few pairs of eyes looking for the gulls. Notwithstanding the above, we did manage to ring a very good sample of chicks again this year, and productivity looks even better for Herring Gull than last year. We left the Herring Gull colonies alone this visit, as we just needed to assess the productivity of the relatively few LBBGs breeding on the island.

We first visited the gully colony by the Venus Pool, and although there were some large LBBG chicks here (perhaps half a dozen or so) the almost fledged Herring Gulls made entering the colony too precarious as the Herring Gulls would have tried to fly off before they were ready. Our last bit of monitoring was on Lissroy, where all three species of gulls had produced some young…but Herring Gulls and even a few LBBGs were already on the wing. We managed to find a couple of LBBG chicks, and also another GBBG chick.  It was heartening to confirm that both LBBG sub-colonies had produced a few young this year. Bearing in mind their bad run of years with very low productivity until last year, this was continuing good news from Lihou.  Interestingly there were still a few well-grown Shag chicks in nests on Lissroy. This species appears to have been noticeably more successful on Lissroy than Lihoumel this season…probably because of the rat predation suffered on the latter.



22 July 2014