Sunday 9 September 2012

Guilles Galore

Guillemots Galore on the Farne Island clifftops 

1, 2, 3........a lot of Guillemots

'Bridled' Guillemot (5% of Farne population are bridled) 

Adult and chick on cliff ledge

Guillemot egg predated by large Gull 

Success! Heading out and away - Guillemot and 'fledged' youngster

Sunday 9th September comments: In the next seabird instalment, here is a review of the Guillemots on the Farne Islands from this season: Guillemots are a unique species of the northern hemisphere, as they do not construct nests as breeding pairs lay a single egg and incubate with the egg balanced between their feet (as in the way of Penguins!) This makes counting very difficult and therefore a colony is counted as a total number of ‘individuals’ present, rather than the number of exact breeding pairs. This overall figure still gives us a very good picture of the health of the colony and the general trends between years.

This year a total of 49,076 individuals were counted as being present on the cliffs of the Farnes, an increase of 2.3% on the previous year. This represents a record population count and they have come along way since the first resident National Trust rangers were put on the islands in 1971, when the population stood at a mere 1,349!

The following figures represent the total number of individual breeding birds present on the islands with the bracketed figures representing the totals for the previous season: Inner Farne 6,784 (6,823), West Wideopen 2,232 (2,134), East Wideopen 3,096 (2,739), Megstone 420 (250), Skeny Scar 2,216 (2,672), Staple 23,665 (22,502), Brownsman 8,360 (8,547), North Wamses 1,317 (1,480), South Wamses 489 (440), Roddam and Green 97 (130), Big Harcar 400 (260),

As has been the case in recent years, the breeding season started quickly with the first eggs discovered on 10th April and the first young hatching from early May. Despite the weather (it was horrendous at times) the breeding population experienced a very good year (bucking the trend of many east coast seabird colonies) as huge numbers of young departed the islands from mid-June to early July. It was estimated that over 20,000 young fledged the Farnes representing a very healthy return.

As for next year, will the Farnes topple the 50,000 individual mark for the first time and fingers crossed for even more breeding successes. If you're a Guillemot, the Farnes is the place to be!

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