Given other work and seabird commitments, and the dates that
the Lihou causeway was open towards the end of June, we always knew
visit on 29 June was likely to be a little too late for ringing the
number of Herring Gull chicks. This was even truer given the slightly
than average breeding season for many gulls in 2010. Nevertheless Jamie
and Paul Veron went across to the island as soon as the causeway opened
The weather was near perfect with
virtually no wind and some
welcome cloud cover. It was quite sultry, but not as hot as it would
in a clear blue sky with unbroken sunshine.
Like our previous visit on 11
June we made an anti-clockwise
circuit of the coast. It was soon obvious that many of the Herring
large, with some already on the wing. With the tide dropping fast many
would have been on the acres of exposed shore, being impossible to
Given this somewhat late visit it
was even harder than usual
to assess breeding productivity, as many of the gulls were already far
nests. All the usual sub-colonies appeared to have some young, so the
clearly enjoyed reasonable success around the island. It was a better
than in 2009, when the long-staying Snowy Owl had fed on gull chicks
the gull nesting productivity across the island.
Only six Great Black-backed Gull
chicks were ringed (five
colour-ringed). This, together with the seven ringed (only two cr) on
was a fairly poor showing; suggesting that this species has been less
productive than usual this year on Lihou. Several chicks were seen but
caught, but even allowing for this the numbers appeared low.
Time did not allow a visit to the
islets of Lihoumel 1 and
2, although the first islet was covered in fledged or near fledged
Cormorants and European Shags (30+ birds). Jamie, who has monitored
seabirds for more than 12 years has never seen so many pairs breeding
successfully on the rocks – so this is a very positive sign.
There was evidence on Lihou of a
couple of Peregrine kills –
one feral pigeon and a European Oystercatcher.
We completed out two and a half
hour visit with a quick
assessment of the gull colonies on the shingle bank and granite
Lissroy. The dozen or so pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls do not
have had any breeding success for the second consecutive year. Although
birds were present in the small colony only two active nests were found
– both with
a single egg in them. No chicks were observed. Last year the failure of
colony, after producing small chicks, was believed to have been the
predation by the Snowy Owl. The reason for the lacklustre performance
birds this year is not known – especially as Herring Gulls in
this area had
been very successful.
At least 20 Herring Gull chicks
were observed on Lissroy,
but they were so large and mobile that we could only ring the
that had hidden in the rocks.
The total number of gull chicks
ringed during this visit was
15 Herring Gulls and six Great Black-backed Gulls.
Once back on Guernsey, I went to Pat
Costen’s house to ring
the single Herring Gull chick that has resulted from the nesting effort
pair of gulls nesting on her roof. This is currently very unusual in
Guernsey…even in St Peter Port. I was amazed at the mobbing that
birds engage in whenever Pat or Pete go into their back garden or try
supper on their terrace. The gulls are of course only defending their
but it is raucous and obtrusive! The
youngster was still a few days too small to be colour ringed (having
13 June)…so I’ll have to return in five or six days’
Pat also took me across the road
to the neighbour’s garden
where another pair of Herring Gulls is nesting on the roof of a large
granite house. They have been doing this for about ten years. One of
from this nest had apparently fallen off the roof a week earlier, and
it was still alive in the front garden – so the adults must still
it. I picked it up ringed it (White 6.AX6) and popped it back through a
onto the roof by the nest and its sibling.
Another pair of Herring Gulls had
(unsuccessfully) on the ground in this property! It was fascinating for
see for the first time roof nesting gulls in Guernsey. It made me
how unpopular such activity is going to be with many Guernsey residents
habit ever becomes widespread!
30 June 2010