Gull counting is what we are doing a lot of at the moment but it is not what it seems. Firstly we don’t actually count the gulls but count the nests and by doing this we get a total number of pairs for the whole island.
The method to count nests is that we line up in groups of 4-6 and sweep the whole island systematically section by section. Every nest we find we count including number of eggs and then spray a small patch of blue stock marker paint (it is temporary) on the side. After we have finished a section the nest checker (Bex) walks through and counts how many nests have been missed so that a correction factor can be applied to our total. Meanwhile the gulls themselves hover above us yelling their heads off, while raining poo on us and occasionally trying to tap us on the head. And we make easy targets as we have to moved slowly to make sure we count everything, and to add to the experience the terrain is very tough going. Having to step from tussock to tussock in knee deep vegetation to avoid damaging puffin burrows means that we are all wobbling around like an over 80’s beginners night at the local ice rink.
But it isn’t all hard work, gull eggs are beautiful and grudgingly I suppose the young chicks are quite cute and the bottom line is that it is just great to be out engaged with the island all day.
There is even time for some to sit around in the sun and watch what is going on around them,