Two memorable days on the island of Burhou targeting Storm Petrels ended our 2016 scheduled seabird ringing program. For me, this was definitely a case of saving the best until last. We were very lucky with the weather both nights, particularly Saturday when the light breeze dissipated along with the last light of the day leaving us with near perfect ringing conditions. Over the two overnight sessions exactly 700 Storm Petrels were processed, including 6 controls (3 UK-ringed and 3 French-ringed birds). There is little doubt that the population of this species here is underestimated, and this trip was very useful towards standardising procedures for our ongoing study to monitor the population. The nets were opened at dusk (about 9.30pm) and on both nights the first petrels emerged around 10pm. A perfect evening was crowned with half a dozen shooting stars across the ‘planetarium like’ sky.
During the day we ringed another 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks and put up a net targeting Rock Pipits, promptly catching 16! There were 4 juvenile Wheatear on the island and no shortage of Rock Pipits which have clearly had an extremely good breeding season. There was a minimum of 50 birds present and their obvious success may be due to there being no predators for this ground-nesting species on Burhou. We saw several Grey Seals (or should I say they saw us!) Other birds we saw over the island on passage were Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper. Manx Shearwaters were regularly passing this island during daylight hours and a few made their presence heard at night.
The observatory team are currently setting about organising a seabird program over 5 or 6 days for visiting ringers in 2017. This is likely to include Gannets, auks, gulls, Puffins, Shags, Cormorants and Storm Petrels. If interested, please email me at [email protected], as places are likely to be limited.
One late report from yesterday: 4 Little Egrets in Longis Bay.
This afternoon the Veron’s reported 5 Med Gulls at Houmet Herbé and a Willow Warbler and 3 Little Grebe at Longis Pond.
I opened just one net this afternoon for a couple of hours on Essex farm and caught 16 new birds. These included passage migrants Sedge and Willow Warblers.