Monday 13 July 2009

Guille's on the up!

Guillemot with food

Family bliss: adult and chick

'Yellow-billed' Guillemot - one of three birds on the islands
Monday 13th July comments:
The season continues to go from strength to strength and the good news is that other North Sea seabird colonies appear to be reporting ‘good seasons’ as far north as Shetland, so things looking good! At present, all seabirds are doing well on the Farnes and we are on the verge of some stunning results, so long as the weather maintains itself.

The first of the population results are now complete and we’ve had an increase of Guillemots across the islands, rising from 43,864 individuals to 48,126 individuals (about 32,244 breeding pairs). As Guillemots do not construct nests (they tuck their single egg under their feet), we have to count the population as ‘individuals’ rather than pairs – because we can’t see the nest to confirm a breeding pair. Therefore most Guillemot populations are given as ‘individuals’ as apposed to breeding pairs. However the main focus is the general population trend and it’s increasing – the Farnes only boasted 3,787 only thirty years ago, so it’s been a huge increase in such a short space of time.

A close relative of the Guillemot, the Razorbill (and vastly outnumbered by its commoner cousin) is also reporting an increase in numbers this year, but only just! The breeding population now stands at 332 pairs, compared to 326 from last year and only 29 pairs in 1979! So things looking good and both species are reporting good numbers of fledged young so a brilliant year all round.

Away from the breeding seabirds, the weather has settled and visitor boats are now sailing again after a four day absence. The sea late last week was ‘monstrous’ and eventually we reopened to the public on Sunday. The week ahead appears to be very settled, which will benefit the birds and the visitors alike. Its not long now before all the Guillemots and Razorbills have gone for another season and the Puffins won’t be far behind them. We’re now entering the ‘end game’ of the breeding season and things will change once again.

Highlights: The Farnes 12th ever Cory’s Shearwater moved north off the islands on Saturday 11th July. The bird was tracked moving through Staple Sound before heading out eastwards to the open sea. The same evening seawatch produced over 102 Manx Shearwater and the first Sooty Shearwater of the autumn. The month of July witnesses a noticeable influx of waders to the islands and the WeBs counts will reveal more, with increases in Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper and Knot amongst others.

Breeding Birds: It’s turning out to be one of the best seasons ever, as huge numbers of young are now fledging. Fulmar have chicks (they’ll not fledge young until late August), young Kittiwakes are on the verge of flying whilst everything else has seen the first fledglings take to the air. Its an exciting time but we’ve still got plenty more to report.


kezia said...

have arrived at Beadnell Bay and so looking forward to tomorrow , hopefully the weather will be better , pouring with rain right now with thunder and lightening !!! booked on the 10 am glad tidings so fingers crossed will see you all tomorrow , hope everyone is well .

kezia said...

Oh well wont be seeing you today and by the looks of it neither tomorrow unless a miracle happens I am so disappointed , hope you are all okay out there !!!