Saturday, 3 July 2010

Volunteers "monitor" Shearwaters

This week there have been a lot of people related activities so I felt it timely that we should go out and check on the Manx Shearwaters. These birds are un gamely on land but when close up and out at sea they really are at their best. Using their long wings they can pick up air currents created over the surface of the sea and pockets of updraft created by the rolling sea. The big swell has meant great views can be had from island or just off-shore. The rolling sea also meant the boat driver (me) could not really relax! The reason why the Manxies gather in rafts before coming on the island has several possible explanations. Firstly, rafting is a social activity (like Starlings) and it does look like fun. Secondly, a lot of birds may have been away from the colony foraging for food and have travelled a long way and are just too early to come ashore. The birds are waiting for darkness to fall before attempting to return to the burrow to feed a chick or change over with the partner who may be incubating.

Must dash to the landing now to count all the day trippers back off the island. Not something that should be rushed! So far we have had no strandees.

Other wildlife news - Guillemot chicks are taking their first leaps from the cliffs. Pufflings are starting to poke their heads out of the burrows (mainly in the evening) and Short Eared Owl chicks are looking quite adult like and exploring further affield (making them a bit less reliable to spot!). Plenty of Peregrine chick sightings at High Cliff. Young Chough are also seen daily.

Skomer Warden

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