It was obvious that the Great Cormorant chicks on Lihoumel have had a more successful and earlier breeding season this year compared with 2009 (and especially compared to 2008). The very large chicks were clearly visible from Guernsey on clear days so with the next available tide the decision was made to do the first Lihou Seabird ringing trip of 2010 somewhat earlier than most years!
Jamie & Mish Hooper arrived at the open causeway at 10.30am and made the brisk walk across to Lihou. As always we walked along the western edge observing a few colour ringed Herring Gulls on the way. In the warm weather the burnet moths were numerous on the sea pinks as were the tourists on the island! Few gull chicks were seen as they were either too small or still due to hatch.
On the short walk to Lihoumel it was clear that we may have left the Cormorant chicks too long as the island was awash with ready to fledge young. The sheer numbers of them peering down on us was something we hadn’t seen in the past few years so even though a challenge for us, it was encouraging to see that they’ve had such a successful year. Again we worked Lihoumel in a clock wise direction and noted that the increased Cormorant numbers may have pushed out the European Shag nest numbers slightly due to their earlier nesting. Leaving the biggest Cormorants alone, the first Shag nests ringed were of a good size with at least 2 – 3 well fed chicks in each brood. After we ringed the first 4 or so nests of Shags we moved up to the central point of the island where the biggest numbers of shag chicks were. Within this dense area of nests we managed to ring 7 Cormorant chicks that were young enough to not scamper away. The remaining Shag nests had chicks that were too small to take a ring so these birds will be visited by us again in 3 weeks. There were also 2 nests of Great Black-backed Gulls just hatched or hatching that will be ready for us on the next trip.
Back on Lihou we made our way to the southern most headland, Lissroy, in order to see if there were any ringable Shags. Upon arrival it was clear that these birds were not as advanced as the Lihoumel birds however they were big enough to ring. The GBBG chicks that we saw on Lissroy were again only days old so will need to be revisited in a few weeks for ringing.
This very productive visit yielded the following totals of birds ringed:
14 June 2010