Friday 10th July comments: This week the Isle of May has been home to six young birders all experiencing a bird observatory (and its work) for the first time following a joint venture between the Scottish Ornithological Club (SOC) and the Isle of May Bird Observatory Trust. As part of this, we’ve managed to capture the thoughts of the six participants and here is what they had to say;
Eleanor: Puffin ‘groveling’ is catching puffins in their burrows to check their development and work out the success rate of fledging. Some pufflings have already fledged and the burrows are empty but others have adults in, which are a handful to extract! The pufflings need to have their wing and weight measured to judge how close they are to fledging. Afterwards the pufflings can be released down their burrows.
Emily: Sat in a precarious wooden box (“Don’t worry, it’s 30 years old !”), perched on the cliff edge, the sheer drop makes me feel I’m about to regurgitate my lunch. I’m here to record when Kittiwake parents leave the nest and return. More time away from the nest means less efficient feeding.
Glen: We’ve all thoroughly enjoyed the fantastic experience of being in an Arctic Tern colony, checking and recording the ringed chicks and ringing those who weren’t. The adults didn’t share our enthusiasm and we were subject to various swoops and pecks. I’d forgotten my hat and one individual managed to draw blood! All part of the experience!
Julia: At 5.30am we erected nets in the billowing winds in order to catch the Puffins and collect fish that fell to the ground from the birds’ bright beaks. We retrieved various sizes of sand-eels, sprats and rockling for scientific analysis. Each Puffin was ringed accordingly before being released towards the sea.
Ptolemy: As well as chats on the Isle’s history, ringing and recording, Mike Harris covered his Puffin work. It was interesting to hear about the bird’s ecology including stories of surveys and tracking as to attaining information. A great addition was other auks, including Guillemots and Razorbills, which were discussed.
Sam: Whilst on the May I’ve spent a good amount of time scanning the sea from various different points around the island in hope of finding seabirds on passage. Highlights so far have been three Great Skua passing over, and eight Common Scoter flying into the Forth, north of the island, both being the first “autumn” records for this year.
The team would like to thank all those who helped during the week to make it a special seven days and something we won’t forget.