Saturday, 11 July 2015

Skomer's breeding land-birds 2015

While the spectacular Skomer seabirds take much of our efforts (and also much of the limelight!) during the summer, our breeding landbirds are also extremely busy at this time, and as wardens we keenly monitor and observe the activity of the species which make Skomer their home.

Key species to mention on the reserve, and which require extra special attention due to their UK and local conservation status are our Peregrines, Choughs, Curlews and Short-eared Owls. All have again bred on the island, with three pairs of Peregrines, four (and perhaps five) Chough territories (up from three in 2014), three Curlew territories and two pairs of nesting Short-eared Owls (down from three pairs in 2014). We aren't quite far enough into the season to give a final assessment of productivity of these birds, but so far we have confirmed one fledged Chough from a nest in the Lantern followed by two chicks at North Haven, a minimum of three fledged Short-eared Owls (from a brood of six young) and there is currently at least one large Curlew chick running around in the bracken near the farm which has just fledged. Finally the Protheroe's Dock Peregrines have fledged a female chick, while we are still waiting on the other territories on the island.

Jeronimo! A juvenile Chough takes to the wing 
Chick with parents. A family of two chicks seen in North Haven seen shortly after may have been from another nest...

In other owl-related news, the resident Little Owls have had another successful year, fledging all of their brood of four chicks.

Adult Little Owl standing guard

One of the fledged young Little Owls

Further notable species known to have bred this year include at least 2 pairs of Shelduck, a pair of Shoveler (see Kracken blog...), one pair of Stonechats and at least one pair of Linnets (breeding for the first time since 2009). Many of our usual breeding species (Meadow and Rock Pipits, Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats) appear to be having a fairly late season, perhaps due to a particularly wet spell earlier in the spring. Hopefully their second brood will be more successful!  

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