Ringing Report for 2007

Having gradually been increasing my ringing activities over the past couple of years, I had hoped to at least maintain results in 2007. However, a number of factors combined to make this a very difficult year. Firstly a pair of Eurasian Kestrels bred in the box on the chimney of our house. In order to reduce disturbance I did not erect any nets at Ty Coed for the duration of the spring. This measure was some sacrifice, but we wanted to give the falcons the best chance of success. In the end, however, the eggs failed to hatch despite the hard work of both parents.

With the spring behind me, Catherine and I looked forward to the seabird breeding season – always a real highlight of our ringing year. 2007 turned out to be one of the worst seasons I have seen with European Shags virtually failing to breed at all. Instead of ringing 300+ pulli (as expected)…this year we ringed only five…and this was not due to lack of effort.

Combined with this, was a very difficult summer with prolonged periods of windy weather when it was just not possible to land on the gannetries. In view of this we were given a special dispensation to land later than normal…but even with this Catherine, Chris Mourant and I managed to land only on the very last possible day (16th July). Only one rock could be visited (Les Etacs) and in order to minimise disturbance (as the young were large) we did not enter the main part of the colony. In normal years the total of 291 Northern Gannets ringed would be very disappointing. However, given the difficult circumstances of 2007, we were just pleased to have made it onto the rock and gained an assessment of the breeding season (which looked as successful as ever).

Auks generally did poorly with many usually occupied sites on L’Etac de Serk and the Humps deserted. Only four Common Guillemots were ringed. For a variety of reasons no seabird trip was made to Burhou so the Storm Petrel colony was not worked, and the gull chicks went unringed. A night spent camping on the cliffs at the south end of Sark (with Sophie and Merlin) did produce a single Storm Petrel for Sophie to ring.

With horses in both paddocks over the summer it was not possible to trap gulls in the garden. Despite this some trapping was done at La Petite Valette, St Saviour’s and pulli were ringed on Brecqhou, Sark and Jethou. In the end 71 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were ringed, along with 129 Herring Gulls and 21 Great Black-backed Gulls. The single Iceland Gull was a second year bird picked up exhausted in January and released at L’Eree by the Animal Shelter after a week or so.

With the nets back up at Ty Coed, and along the canal at the Vale Marais, hopes were high for a reasonable autumn, but it delivered very modest results. Two species were added to the garden ringing list with Common Kingfisher and Cetti’s Warbler, while record totals there were achieved only for Eurasian Reed Warbler (23), Willow Warbler (60), Firecrest (15) and European Goldfinch (11).

My personal “bird of the year” was caught in the autumn when I inadvertently flushed a female Eurasian Teal into the canal nets at the Vale Marais. This was a particularly beautiful and well-proportioned duck in the hand. Record totals were achieved for two species - Eurasian Wigeon (two) and Tufted Duck (two).

My efforts to trap Northern Wheatears in the spring at Jaonneusse Bay were reasonably successful, with attempts on ten days between 27th March and 13th May resulting in 59 birds ringed. Greater success than normal was achieved with my study of Common Moorhens with a total of 51 new birds being caught at the Vale Marais, Vale Pond, King’s Mills and La Grande Mare.

Foreign Recoveries

Northern Gannet

 F 34689            Pullus              24.06.06            Ortac, Alderney
                         S (released)      05.01.07            Nr Dakar, Senegal (3rd), 4,320 km       195 days

F 8829               Pullus              28.06.86            Les Etacs, Alderney
                         X                     03.03.07           Ambleteuse, Pas de Calais, France,  (97th), 300 km, 7,553 days

At 20 years and 8 months this is my oldest Gannet recovery to date.

F 31831            Pullus              20.06.05            Les Etacs, Alderney
                        X (oil)              16.05.07            Quiberon, Morbihan, France, (98th)  260 km, 695 days

F 18186            Pullus              12.06.94            Ortac, Alderney
                        V                     15.06.07            Helgoland, Germany (21st), 860 km,  4,751 days

This is the seventh summer since 1999 that this bird has been reported from Helgoland, where it has been reported breeding.

F 34677            Pullus              24.06.06            Ortac, Alderney
                        S (died)            06.08.07            Brejos da Carregueira, Setubal, Portugal (7th), 1,370 km, 408 days

F 13176            Pullus              17.06.90            Ortac, Alderney                                                       
X                     23.08.07           Cherbourg, France, (99th) 50 km, 6,276 days

 F 12823            Pullus              16.06.90            Les Etacs, Alderney
                        X                     22.11.07            Wassenaar, Zuid Holland,  Netherlands (23rd), 540 km, 6,638 days

European Shag

F 13895            Pullus              10.06.91            Grande Fauconniere, Jethou
                        X                     21.05.07            Sciotot, Les Pieux, Manche,  France,  (143rd) , 30 km, 5,824 days

F 16476            Pullus              05.06.93            Renonquet, Alderney
                        X (net)            24.05.07             St Marie du Mont, Manche, France, (144th), 70 km, 5,101 days

F 33126            Pullus              11.06.05            L’Etac de Serk
                        X                     09.06.07            Pale du Guern, Erquy, Brittany, France, (145th), 90 km, 728 days

F 5363            Pullus              15.06.80              Longue Pierre, Herm
                        X                     15.08.07            Le Pointe aux Oies, Nord, France, (146th), 320 km, 9,922 days

At just over 27 years old this is my oldest recovery to date from any species.

Little Egret   

E 12299            Pullus              15.06.06            Crevichon, Jethou
(colour)            VV                   04.09.06           River Caen, Braunton, Devon, England, (1st),  220 km, 81 days
                        VV                   23.05.07           La Claire Mare, Guernsey, 220 km,  58 days
                        VV                   18.08.07           Potteric Carr N.R., Doncaster, England, (2nd), 440 km, 87 days
                        VV                   21.08.07           RSPB Old Moor, Barnsley, England (3rd), 20 km, 3 days

This bird demonstrates very well the value of colour ringing, and provides evidence of how England is being colonised by this species.

Great Black-backed Gull

E 4372            Pullus              26.06.90             Grande Fauconniere, Jethou
                        X                   08.06.01             Rozel, Manche, France, (6th), 46 km, 4,000 days

J 0069            Pullus              18.06.06            Les Burons, Sark
                        X                  18.06.07             Pagham Harbour, West Sussex, England, (4th), 183 km, 365 days

Common Guillemot

H 1561            Ad                   18.03.07            GSPCA, Guernsey
                        X                    30.04.07            Roscoff, Brittany, France, (1st), 90 km, 43 days

H 1566            Ad                   18.03.07            GSPCA, Guernsey
                        X                    30.04.07            Swansea, Wales, (1st) 255 km, 43 days

H 1572            Ad                   18.03.07            GSPCA, Guernsey
                        X                     30.04.07           Ravenoville, Manche, France, (2nd), 90 km, 43 days

All three birds were ringed after rehabilitation, following the same oiling incident off Guernsey’s coastline. Note all birds were recovered on the same day, but having dispersed in different directions.

Northern Wheatear

V 17460            5male             17.04.07         Jaonneusse Bay, Guernsey
                        X (car)            23.09.07        Herre, Landes, France, (1st),633 km,  159 days

My first recovery of a Northern Wheatear – helping to make all the effort at Jaonneusse Bay each spring worthwhile.

Willow Warbler

I 45492            3                      13.08.06        Ty Coed, Vale Marais, Guernsey
                       V                     05.09.07        Tourem, Montealegre, Vila Real, Portugal, (1st), 961 km, 388 days

My firs foreign recovery of a warbler ringed in the garden at Ty Coed!

Foreign Controls

Herring Gull

E 08282            Pullus              29.06.01        Pleinmont Cliffs, Guernsey
(White 8F2)            VV            01.12.01        Plym Estuary, Devon, England,  (1st), 150 km, 155 days
                        V                     21.04.07        La Petite Valette, Guernsey, 150 km                                                                       1,967 days
This bird was trapped in a spring net.

Sedge Warbler
Arnhem            3male             20.08.03         Saeftinghe, Sieperda, Netherlands,  (1st),
AG 85626            V               28.04.07        Vale Marais, Guernsey, 520 km, 1,347 days   

Foreign Colour Rings

Greater White-fronted Goose

Rey 134176            Ad female            26.09.05            Hvanneyri, Andakillshreppur, Iceland (1st)
orange S2H              VV                    04.11.06            La Miellette, Vale, Guernsey,  2,024 km, 404 days
                                VV                   28.11.06            Alaw Estuary, Anglesey, Wales, (1st)
                                VV                   12.03.07            Wexford Slob, Ireland, (1st)

This series of observations demonstrates the value of colour ringing. The bird originally became separated from its family, ending up in Guernsey, which is well off the beaten track for Greenland White-fronted Geese. It fortunately made its way back to its usual winter site on the Wexford Slobs, via Anglesey, where it re-united with its associates within the same winter period prior to return to the breeding areas. It was last re-sighted in Wexford two-three days before the mass departure of some 6,000 birds on spring migration back to Iceland and Greenland.

Local Recoveries/Retraps

European Shag

F 14078            Pullus              17.06.91            Longue Pierre, Herm
                        X                     10.06.07           Port Soif, Guernsey, 5,837 days

F 14074            Pullus              17.06.91            Longue Pierre, Herm
                        X                     18.06.07            Longue Pierre, 5,845 days
F 13993            Pullus              10.06.91            Crevichon, Jethou
                        X                     17.08.07            Hermetier, Herm, 5,912 days

Three shag which reached good ages. Note that F 14074 died while nesting back on its  natal colony.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

E 5547            Pullus                  30.06.93        Brecqhou, Sark
                        S (died)             25.05.07        Longis Common, Alderney,  5,077 days

Catherine and I found this bird with a broken wing; it was subsequently put down by the vet. I wonder if the bird had moved from its natal colony on Brecqhou to the largest colony of L B B Gulls in the Channel Islands on Burhou?

Common Guillemot

Four birds were retrapped under the main breeding boulder on Longue Pierre during the visit on 18th June 2006. All birds had originally been ringed on Longue Pierre as follows: -

H 1364 – adult ringed on 15th June 1999;
H 1315 -  adult ringed on 18th June 2002; 
H 1388 – adult ringed on 9th June 2005; and
H 1390 – adult ringed on 9th June 2005.