Sark – 18 June 2006


Arrived in Sark on Saturday evening – to the sight of a dozen or so Bottle-nosed Dolphins feeding and playing between Grand Moie and Les Burons, just off Maseline Harbour. Of course the dolphins attracted a lot of attention from people at the harbour and also from a few pleasure boats nearby.
Catherine and Paul stayed overnight at lovely Clos de Manage Guesthouse – Dave & Hilary were very welcoming. Lovely grounds. Supper at Fitz’s then fell asleep (rather than check Manx Shearwaters!). On Sunday we met Andy Cook at Maseline and set off in his yacht on a slow potter down the east coast towards L’Etac. It was a beautiful flat calm, gentle day. An adult Gannet was resting on a rock off Derrible Bay.
There were Impressive rafts of Guillemots (50+) and Puffin (30+) off L’Etac de Serk. Auks seemed very reluctant to fly or dive off today. We landed and spent two hours on the rock. Some of the Shag we ringed on 1st June were still present. Ringed 20 more young Shag, along with 5 Great Black-backed Gulls (ranging from small chicks to virtually fully fledged) and two young Lesser Black-backed Gulls. No Guillemots seen on rock, but a few Razorbills nesting under different rocks from last year.  Numerous eggshells from guillemots – could they have been heavily predated? We ringed an adult Razorbill and an adorable chick with feathers just beginning to show on top of head.  Numerous fire bugs in vegetation.
After being picked up in the Avon dinghy Andy dropped us off on Moie de Breniere. We had never been on this rock before. It has a good Herring Gull colony – 40 chicks ringed. Also some interesting looking burrows that could easily be Manx Shearwater. Some appeared to be in use! The adjacent turf-covered islet (with no gulls) also looked good for the shearwaters.
We then headed back to the yacht moored nearby for tea – but this was soon interrupted by the reappearance of the dolphins. Several came into the bay and we then followed them out in the dinghy. Incredibly two dolphins came bow-riding right in front of the rubber dinghy several times. We saw a couple leaping out of the water. Catherine even jumped into the water and swam, but the dolphins were moving away at this point. What an experience in Sark waters!
Pottered back up the East Coast and then returned the yacht to its mooring in Greve de la Ville Bay. Andy took us over to La Petite Moie in the dinghy. Flat calm sea so easy landing. This landing was another first for both of us. Even though it has been a poor year for Shag productivity generally we ringed 11 chicks on the stack, along with four adult Guillemots and an adult Razorbill.  We also picked up the remains of a European Storm Petrel wing.
We transferred across to Grand Moie, which is actually several rocks. We were able to get onto most and enjoyed ringing another 25 young Shags. This is a very enjoyable rock to work. We saw several more Razorbills on this rock, but didn’t ring any. Shags here were rather big and mobile, so we had to leave a few areas unringed. 4 Herring Gull chicks were ringed.  100 plus Grey Mullet were milling around in the sheltered waters between the rocks.
We then we to  to our final landing on the northernmost of Les Burons. Another 14 Shag chicks ringed here – which was wonderful! There were several small burrows which looked (and smelt) very good for Storm Petrel! We ringed two large Great Black-backed Gull chicks; also one Herring Gull ringed.  Found remains of adult Fulmar on the edge of a Shag nest.
This had been a truly fantastic day – one of the most enjoyable of the entire seabird season. Wonderful relaxed pace, great success with the ringing, friendly and very helpful company of Andy and first landings for ringing on both Moies and Les Burons for a very very long time!