More than just seals


The bishop catching the winter sun.

Though the seals dominate at this time of year there are still other things of interest.



It might be mid-November but migration is still happening, birds are moving. Several hundred thrushes are across the island constantly moving and calling. Blackbirds, redwings, fieldfares and song thrushes zip out of every hollow and shelter as you cross the island. Robins and wrens make use of puffin burrows for cover and a sprinkle of tiny goldcrests are frantically feeding up. On one day 3 blackcaps and a chiffchaff were on the island, but gone the next.


Female blackcap

A few woodcock are using the island as a stop over, this one we found in the Top Trap and took a bit of time to admire the stunning camouflage patterns.

As usual Mark was finding the rarer birds, 2 bean geese at the Mainlight, only the second record for the island and a glaucous gull coming onto the island to roost.

But one of the reasons for coming out to the island at this time of year is to get resightings of shags and their leg rings. These darvic rings with a colour and 3 letter combination can be used to identify individual birds from a distance. Originally used to identify birds during the breeding season on the nest, there is a know a big project to see where the birds go in the winter. Shags come onto dry land to roost in the evening so for the hour before sunset and the half hour after we have been spotting birds coming onto the ledges and noting leg ring combinations. A cold and breezy occupation but thoroughly enjoyable as there is always something to see. Once it is too dark to read the rings we head back to the warm cottages but you do have to be careful that you don’t trip over a seal or step on a pup in the dark!



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