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Thursday 4 July 2013

Two new guillemot chicks have hatched, but one chick was lost.

Highlights: 180 puffins seen on one day. Another 29 guillemot feeds during 5 mornings of observation.

Busy times over the last few days. The Splash-in underwater photography competition was a great success last Saturday. We had Baz & Steve Dambusker and friends playing music in the Marisco Tavern on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Despite this, I still managed to record 2 hours of guillemot feeding on Thu 27th, Fri 28th, Sun 30th, Mon 1st, Tues 2nd, Wed 3rd. Each hour of video requires an hour to upload to my laptop, plus another hour to convert the file into an mpeg2 file.

However this morning is still foggy, so I'll grab this opportunity to give you an update on the last week's activity.

Wednesday 26/6/13. The trip around the island on the Jessica Hettie was very successful - Shelley counted 56 puffins on the water.

Thursday 27/6/13. The guillemot chicks received 6 feeds, 2 feeds each for chicks E (Eleanor) and S (Stanley), also single feeds for chicks H (Harman) and Q (Qawser). The other four chicks were seen: B (Bevill), C (Christie), I (Irwin) and N (Neville).

This was also a good day for puffins. I counted 53 puffins on the land at St Philip's Stone at 8am, plus 104 puffins on the land at Jenny's Cove at 9am. Alan Rowland was also on the island and counted 23 puffins at Long Roost at 1pm.

Friday 28/6/13. Eight feeds today: Eleanor received 3 feeds, Harman received 2 feeds, with single feeds for Christie, Irwin and Qawser. No feeds seen for Bevill, Neville, or Stanley. It was foggy for 20 minutes during my survey. Fortunately Sony Vegas was able to stretch the light levels so that I still had the full 2 hour coverage. No birds arrived during the fog.

Saturday 29/6/13. Splash-in.

Sunday 30/6/13. Foggy in the morning but I managed to get out at midday. 62 puffins on the land at St Philip's Stone at 1:40pm. 4 feeds were seen (Christie, Eleanor, Qawser and Stanley) and four other chicks were seen Bevill, Harman, Irwin and Neville.

Monday 1/7/13. Another chick has hatched! When I first arrived, the adult at site G was tenting its wings. There were also small pieces of egg-shell on the ledge. Later on, I managed to catch a glimpse of the new chick "Grenville". There were five feeds in my 2 hour watch today - Bevill, Christie, Eleanor, Harman and Irwin received feeds - Grenville, Neville, Qawser and Stanley were feedless.

Tuesday 2/7/13. Six feeds today. I thought that this would be a exceptional morning - I saw 5 feeds in the first hour, but then I sat through 40 minutes of rain with no feeds. Irwin received 2 feeds, Bevill, Grenville, Harman and Stanley all received one feed each. Christie, Eleanor, Neville and Qawser were also present.

Wednesday 3/7/13. Neville has gone. Both parents were at site N this morning but there was no sign of Neville. At 16 days old, Neville would have been capable of "fledging" but the presence of both parents means that either predation or bad communication was responsible.

In guillemots, the chick jumps to the sea before it can fly (giving them the name 'droplings'). The male parent accompanies the chick for the first two months of its life at sea. During this time, the chick learns to fish for itself and the adult is flightless during its moult. Jeremy Greenwood studied the fledging of Lundy's guillemots in July 1962. With a fuller study on Handa (Sutherland, Scotland) he concluded the most fledging deaths result from chick and adult failing to meet each other on the sea. (Greenwood, 1964, Ibis 106, pp.469-481).

On the positive side, another chick hatched today. Chick R (Rene) received a feed. There were 7 other feeds: Eleanor and Harman each received 2 feeds, and there were singles feeds for Bevill, Grenville, and Irwin. Christie, Qawser and Stanley were also seen today.

Rene's first feed

The weather forecast is looking good for the next few days - I'll try to keep you updated. More chicks should be fledging...


  1. Great work Grant. All very encouraging.

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