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Monday 24 August 2020

23rd Aug – In search of shearwaters

Tim Frayling writes that he and fellow Natural England colleague Bart Donato arrived on the island on Sunday (23rd August) looking forward to a few days of helping with the effort of ringing Manx Shearwaters.

“With MS Oldenburg being cancelled the day before, I have to say I was dreading a rough crossing, but happily it was much calmer than expected. Nothing unusual on the bird front from the boat but always nice to see Storm Petrels and Manx Shearwaters at sea. What was very exciting was seeing an Ocean Sunfish – my first sighting for several years.

The crew on board the Oldenburg were fantastic and I felt very safe with all the Covid-19 measures in place. We were all given complimentary tea and coffee. On the island, after checking in and saying hello to Warden Dean, we went to look around and check out the slopes we planned to visit after dark. On the recce we saw a Grey Heron and flushed a Snipe along the way near Old Light. Just a few migrants around in Millcombe: a Spotted Flycatcher, together with a few Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs.

That night we headed out at 22:30hrs full of excitement and an aim of ringing 20 birds. Due to first-night enthusiasm we not only reached our target but went on to 30 then 40 birds. At 04:30hrs we decided to call it a night, only to find a juvenile bird sitting in the village just metres from our door! So we ringed our 41st shearwater and took it to a safe place to release near the coast, which meant finally turning in after 05:00hrs.”

More from Tim in the coming days…

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