Thursday, 8 August 2013

You Swin Again.

8th August (early morning update)


A beautiful calm sea allowed us to get out in the boat for seabird monitoring. We also managed a bit of cetacean watching, making it a useful multi-porpoise trip.
What a crazy day. After the Swinhoe’s excitement of last night it was about 7am before I was able to get to sleep and was then up again for a trap round at 9am (two Wheatears caught). After a quick lunchtime nap, we spent the rest of the day finishing off some of our seabird work, with a boat trip to Greenholm to check the Puffin colony there and ring some Fulmar chicks. 
Puffin monitoring on Greenholm; it appears they have done resonably well this year, with a reasonable number of chicks fledged (in contrast to Guillemots and Razorbills).
Having come home for dinner sporting the distinctive odour of Fulmars (even after a shower, Grace told me ‘Daddy you smell quite nice, but still a bit of maalie sick’), we were considering a relaxed evening and early night, but with such calm, dark conditions it seemed crazy not to try another Storm Petrel ringing session…
Although a Leach’s Petrel was singing from South Haven as we set up the nets, the first hour was surprisingly quiet, with just a dozen Storm Petrels caught. It was therefore somewhat of a surprise when a larger petrel flew into the net and immediately gave the distinctive chatter of Swinhoe’s Petrel! It was quickly established that it was the same bird that we had ringed yesterday and, after processing, it was released. It is quite unusual to recatch any Petrels in subsequent nights (none of the 17 or so Leach’s Petrels ringed this year have been retrapped for example), so we weren’t expecting to see the Swinhoe’s again so soon, if at all. Whether either of the birds we’ve caught become regular fixtures in subsequent years (as one of the Swinhoe’s trapped at Tynemouth did) remains to be seen, but I suspect we may have a few people take advantage of the August discount next year on the off-chance! 
Look who's back. It's almost twitchable... (photo by Kieran Lawrence, who, along with Daniel McGibbon has to rate as one of the luckiest JHMF volunteers of all time!)
In the end, we caught a very reasonable total of 56 Storm Petrels and one Leach’s Petrel by the time we called it a night at 3am (we finished a bit earlier as Will is due to catch the ferry off Fair Isle at 6am!).
Other birds are in relatively short supply at the moment, with a few Common Crossbills still passing through, a small flock of Swifts roaming the north of the island and a Carrion Crow (6th) and a selection of common waders the only migrants. A Minke Whale was seen from North Light in the evening and a Beautiful Golden-Y was trapped at the Obs (the 7th island record), as other wildlife also featured in the daily sightings.
The wind is set to be in the east again later today and, as we enter the second week of August, that brings the possibility of the first autumn arrivals of several species, so perhaps we’ll get some highlights in the daylight soon.

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