Usually the first thing people want to know about regarding the island is what are the puffins doing and where can I see them (though I was asked about storm petrels today which made a pleasant change). Well the puffins are going through their quiet phase with half the population at any one time under the ground incubating eggs. This means that sometimes it can be difficult to see a puffin if the others go out to sea but the last few days we have been having fantastic days with plenty on the island. This will start to change shortly as in the next week or so we expect to see the first puffin carrying fish which means that an egg has hatched somewhere and a chick needs feeding. Gradually more and more eggs will hatch and soon the sky will be filled with puffins with beaks full of sand eels.
The kittiwakes are proving to be a bit more of a puzzle this year. They are all back on the cliffs but are showing very little sign of starting to build nests let alone lay eggs. After their awful year last year we are hoping they will have a better season but it is for good reason that last weekend Scottish Bird Fair made the kittiwake its special bird this year as they are declining fast across Scotland. So they are a bird that we are watching hard at the moment.
The shags started relatively early this year and the earliest layers have now hatch some chicks. Most others are now sitting on eggs though some of the later starters are still putting nests together. Our pair mentioned in a previous blog post that are trying to nest in the middle of some guillemots, are still on their nest and though they haven’t laid yet there was a bit of mating going on yesterday so they might still be successful. The guillemots and razorbills have been very busy laying eggs over the last week or so and are now settling down to 30 days of incubating. The cliffs are at last looking full.
And it is good to see back one of the more distinctive island residents. This guillemot is lacking in pigment in its beak and feet making them bright yellow in colour instead of the usual black brown. And very fetching too.