After a morning of gull ringing in Mont Cuet landfill with the North Thames Gull Ringing Group, a text message from Tara, Island Rib Tours, confirming that there was a two hour window in her bookings to get the seabird ringing team out to the Humps that afternoon was too good an opportunity to miss. Chris Mourant and Catherine Veron took four of the North Thames Gull Ringing Group (Chris, Ken, Derek and Andy) with them and headed out at 12.30 for Longue Pierre with Island Rib Tour.
Slight drizzle soon cleared up to give a clear window for the seabird ringing. Two trips were necessary in the small tender to get everyone ashore but we were soon all on dry land, more or less dry (Derek having experienced a mini dip in the sea en route!)
Chris led the ringing, whilst Catherine concentrated on marking all the active Shag nests with plastic numbers and noting the number of eggs or nestlings as part of Paul Veron’s Shag monitoring scheme. Permission from the States of Guernsey Environment Department had previously been granted for 50 nests to be marked on the Humps, with the intention of marking a further 50 on Jethou.
On first inspection, the islet looked like it was hosting a productive season for seabird breeding with good numbers of Shags, Cormorants and Guillemots. The team soon discovered approximately 60 active Shag nests (40 of which were marked). A total of 60 Shag pulli were ringed (with approximately 10 – 20 left un-ringed due to lack of time). There were also 13 Cormorant nests noted, most with good sized pulli too agile to catch. Two nests however still contained young, too small to ring and only one Cormorant pulli was ringed (G2437). The colony from Godin had obviously split in 2009 to include Longue Pierre. Although previously nesting on Longue Pierre in the 1980s, this was the first year in more than 20 that Cormorants were once again nesting on Longue Pierre. The total number of pairs on both rocks was 25 (i.e. similar to the total for Godin alone from c 2000).
The Guillemots seemed to have had a good season as well with 4 -5 eggs noted in the two smaller colonies on the east of the island; both which also had Shag nesting close by (Shag pulli left un-ringed to limit disturbance to Guillemot eggs). There were also adults and eggs in the Guillemot colony at the top of the islet on the northern end. The largest colony in the centre of the islet was well used but no ringing was attempted due to time limitations.
Two Great Black backed Gull chicks were colour ringed (black code on yellow plastic ring 0L4 and 0L5) with potentially more hiding in the vegetation which was beginning to thicken. Tree mallow and a species similar to Fat Hen were beginning to establish.
In the excitement of the excellent seabird breeding success on Longue Pierre, Catherine missed the two phone calls from Tara and the team was late returning to the boat. Apologies to Tara and Island Rib. However, the seabird team was thrilled with the seabird breeding success evident on the islet so far, a welcome change to the very poor seasons experienced in 2007 and 2008.
8th June 2009