Lihou Island

16 June 2011

Jamie Hooper and I met up at the Lihou Causeway soon after mid-day in order to cross to Lihou to ring gull chicks. The weather was just about perfect with clear blue skies and a moderate westerly breeze to keep things cool. Once across the causeway we worked a clockwise circuit around the island’s coast checking the upper beaches and rocky outcrops for gull chicks. This was a well-timed visit for although there were still a small number of nests with eggs or tiny young, most appeared to have half-fledged young. This meant that most of the gulls found were large enough to take colour rings, but not so big as to attempt to fledge and flap/fly down the beaches.

The southern and western coastlines were quite sparsely populated with only a few Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls found. We did not venture out to Lihoumel, as the first of the islets appeared to be covered in very large young Shags on the point of fledging. Continuing around the west and north coasts we found a few more Great Black-backed Gull chicks, and the usual Herring Gull stronghold on the stony beaches of the east coast came good with a reasonable number of well-grown chicks.

We only had time to cover the eastern half of Lissroy, before the rising tide forced us to get back to Guernsey before the causeway began to cover. The very small colony of a dozen or so pairs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls by the pool suggested that it may well be worth returning to the island in a few weeks’ time to see if the chicks hatched and survived.

By the time we left the island we had ringed 28 Herring Gulls (27 with colour rings) and 18 Great Black-backed Gulls (17 with colour rings). This seemed about the usual success for recent years on the island. As witnessed in recent years we did find a significant number of empty, clean gull nests, which strongly suggested that a significant percentage of the gull population had failed to produce young this year. However…overall productivity appeared to be on a par with recent years. Having said this there are some early signs of a decrease in Herring Gull numbers in some parts of Lihou.


17 June 2011