Sark - 9th June 2007

 

Sophie, Paul and Catherine visited Sark on 9th June 2007.  The day began with an early start to catch the 8am boat over through thick sea fog, so no sea views.  However a scrumptious breakfast at Aval de Creux with Andy Cook lifted our spirits as we planned the operation.  First visit would be by dingy to Les Burons which proved that seabirds were few and far between with the grand total of one Great Black Backed Gull chick ringed from under the same rock as last year.  The Shags had evidently decided not to breed this year with only three nests found and five chicks, all too small to ring.  Again the turf at the top of Les Burons showed good signs of possible Storm Petrel burrows although no conclusive evidence. 

Sophie picked us up off the islet under the expert tutelage of Andy and we headed back to the sailing boat.  Jo Birch, a local naturalist, was already on board, keen to accompany us to L’Etac de Serk so that she could photograph the stone building for the local society.  After a short motor down the coast, watching out all the time for the local Peregrines, we arrived at the moorings owned by Phil Perree from the La Sablonerie.  Sophie again delivered us to L’Etac de Serk in the dingy, with an easy landing at the usual spot on the east side of the island.  From there we began our circumnavigation around the islet working from the base upwards.  However, as we feared there were very few Shag nests, with only two with eggs and six with either one or two young, all but one of which was not large enough to ring. 

Two adult Guillemots were cornered by Paul under their rocky nesting site just up from the landing spot.  One egg was still present accompanied by a number of broken shells scattered near the site, possibly having been predated.  No Guillemots were found in the usual colony site at the top of the islet - so also a poor year for Guillemots in Sark.  Moving round the islet, Paul then managed to surprise an adult Fulmar on its nest.  The contents of the Fulmar’s nostril were spewed onto Paul’s shirt making him particularly pleasant to sit next to for the rest of the day!  Three Fulmars were sitting on eggs on the islet. Further around the islet, one Razorbill adult was cornered but not ringed due to the closeness of the egg.  This was the same site as last year’s ringed chick (i.e. Sark side).  A few Puffins flew out of nest burrows but the ringers did not investigate these any further.  Good numbers of Puffins seen in rafts nearby – 20 plus.  And more than 500 adult shags also rafted a little further out at sea.  Passerines present included a pair of rock pipits which must have been breeding somewhere on the island.

The vegetation was surprisingly sparse.  Jo mentioned that there had been little rain this year in Sark.  The mallow had very little leaf although the sea spinach was doing well.  Catherine spotted a few fire bugs whilst looking at empty Shag nests.  A long line of Grey Mullet circled round the rocks on the Sark side of the islet.

 Andy and Sophie came to pick us up after about an hour having been equally unsuccessful in their Bass fishing exploits.

 Lunch back on the boat and a swim for Catherine and another rib ride for Sophie with Jo’s husband Pete (who had taken us out to L’Etac de Serk the previous year).  We enjoyed good views of a pair of Peregrine hunting feral pigeons while having a cup of tea on board.

 After lunch we headed back to the harbour (and dense fog) in order to visit the Petite Moie and Grande Moie.  However, after some discussion we agreed that because we only expected to find a few very young Shag chicks, the risk was too high of the unattended chicks cooling in the fog.  However, we enjoyed a short view of a Honey Buzzard being mobbed by Carrion Crows at the top of the cliff overlooking Andy’s mooring at Greve de la Ville.

 We then headed back to Guernsey on the 6pm service boat after a lovely day but with limited ringing success – a second poor season for the majority of seabirds.