Thursday 3 September 2015

Ringing on Skokholm

Photo by Jake Gearty

Five of us went ringing on Skokholm from the 24th to the 31st of August. There was me and Chris from the Teifi ringers and there was Steve, Anna and Kim from Pembrokeshire ringing group. Thank you to Steve and Anna for organising the trip.

This was my first time to the island, which I had read and heard lots about, but nothing prepares you for the beauty of the island or the Manx shearwaters flying over head at night.

During the week we shared the island with some great people, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob and Annie Haycock who are amazing birders and photographers (they were on the island helping type up some archives of bird logs recorded in the 1940's -50's by hand, which included data from when Peter Condor was warden). We also had the pleasure of having a group of 6 Next Generation Birders, Craig, Kirsty, Sophie, Jake, Drew and Michael who were very keen to ID as many species as possible as they were in competition against another group on Bardsey, so they were great help at letting us know what species were around and helping Richard and Giselle with their bird log. Unfortunately Bardsey won with 94 species to Skokholm with 84.

Highlights include young Storm petrel weighing, visiting the Storm petrel colony in the quarry, Manx shearwaters ringing, which we did most nights and Storm petrel ringing, which due to low numbers was more of a demonstration and a chance for some of the NGB's bird ringing trainees to ring Storm petrels. I really enjoyed being able to see how much I had learned about ringing birds, ageing, sexing, etc and being able to pass this on to other people.

Young Storm petrel.

Photo by Craig Reed of a Manx Shearwaters.

Species ringed: Meadow pipit, Rock pipit, Willow warbler, Dunlin, Manx shearwater, Storm petrel, Robin, Sedge warbler, Reed bunting, Wren, Spotted flycatcher, Swallow, Whitethroat and a retrapped Lesser whitethroat.

Species seen: Bar-tailed godwit, Black-tailed godwit, Little stint, Knot, Ruff, Gannet, Fulmar, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Merlin, buzzard, Golden plover, Wheatear, Chough, Whimbrel, Curlew, Greenshank, Oystercatchers, Cormorant, Shag, Moorhen, Greater black-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, etc.

I got to ring three new species, Rock pipit, Manx shearwaters and DUNLIN!!!! My first wader, which takes me up to 36 species ringed.

In the words of Kim: "Chris was like a ninja when catching the Dunlin"

Photo by Kirsty Heiner, Dunlin being ringed.

On our day of departure Spotted flycatcher began to arrive, Kim and Bob managed to catch one in a heligoland trap, which was a new species for Kim. Until departure me and Chris kept checking the heligoland traps and we had a mist net up in the courtyard, but to no avail. But I did mange to catch a Swallow in a heligoland trap which does not happen very often.

Photo by Kirsty Heiner, of the Spotted flycatcher ringed by Kim

North Pond

A few words from Craig Reed:

"thank you from the NGB ringers to the members of the ringing team present on Skokholm Island for the week of out visit, a great group of people, providing great help and passing on valuable knowledge. Thanks for the opportunity to ring species normally well out of grasp for me, allowing valuable experience with a number of amazing species such as Storm Petrel, Manx Shearwater and Rock Pipit. I can't imagine I will be ringing any of those any time soon in my Midlands homeland! Thanks to all from the Teifi ringing group and Pembrokeshire ringing group, great to have met you all!"

To wrap up, the island lived up to my expectations, it was an amazing experience, which I could happily repeat yearly. I loved the isolation of the island, the beauty of it and of course the amazing variety of bird species day and night. The only thing missing was my beautiful wife and daughter, who will have to come with me next time.

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