Friday, 17 September 2010

Youngsters leaving the island, research and Ravens

Overnight guests, volunteers and staff this week have been treated to the delights of thousands of young Manx Shearwater fledglings from their burrows. Although adult in appearance they always seem a bit puzzled by their surroundings. Many birds climb to high spots on the island to achieve extra lift on their first voyage. They will continue to fledge for the next couple of weeks.

The new sculpture has had mixed reviews by the Manxies. Some have utilised it to climb higher, other had some trouble with feet becoming trapped between the pieces of wood. As a consequence the sculpture is now no more.

Shearwaters utilising the sculture as a launch pad (picture by Jonathan Parsons). Just goes to show the amazing climbing abilities of a bird which looks so cumbersome on land.

We would like to thank Rosie Walker-Brown, an undergraduate at Oxford, who has been weighing lots and lots of young Manxies. This is to measure the fledgling weight of Manxies and comparing it against data collected by Chris Perrins in the 1960s. There is a suggestion that fledgling weights are lower than previous figures but more recent comparison study had a very small sample size. Rosie will be off the island tomorrow after weighing c.1400 birds and a lot of sleep deprivation. Results to follow when Rosie has caught up on her sleep.

The picture below shows bird number 1000.
Other happenings on the island this week. Seals continue to pup with close up views available from the landing slip in North Haven. These pups have proved difficult for island business with gas deliveries having to be made onto the landing steps in stead of straight onto the beach and into the back of the tractor - carrying full 19kg gas bottles up those steps is hard work!

Ravens are also amazing with flocks of up to 50 gathering around the updrafts of the cliffs. The true reason behind these big groups is a little unknown but there must be a lot of pair bonding going. There are also young birds learning to fly and be acrobatic. Often birds are seen picking up sticks and dropping them. Either to show off to others of maybe just for fun.

(picture by Ben Dean) Ravens doing what Ravens do!
Thanks for reading

Chris Taylor
Skomer Warden.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to come to Skomer to see your ravens, but until then, please contact me with your Raven stories for my Listening To Raven~Drawings, Myths & Mythologies project. and