Monday 16th May comments: As we enter mid-May we take stock of our seabird breeding season and see how things are going. Following a mild late March and cold month of April (two months of contrast) the seabird season started then stopped! However things have improved and we are now in full swing with most species on eggs whilst some are boasting chicks. Here is a roundup of the main seabird species with long-term data trends provided by CEH.
Shag Birds nested early with the first eggs discover on 22nd March, which has followed a pattern of early nesting in recent years (but was still 19 days earlier than the long term average). The first chicks hatched on 26th April and most pairs now have chicks and are busy raising young.
Guillemot The first eggs were discovered on 17th April (five days earlier than the long term average) although the first nesting attempts failed due to predation by large Gulls. However by the end of April the majority had settled and are now nesting in good numbers across the west face cliffs.
Eider The first eggs were seen on 18th April with the first chicks hatching on 7th May. Numbers have been increasing daily and we’ll be conducting a full census of the population at the end of May to determine exact nesting numbers (we have 1,000 nesting females).
Puffin Protracted start to the season due to cool northerly winds in April. The first eggs were discovered on 20th April although the majority of the colony were not on eggs until the months end. First chicks expected to hatch in late May.
Razorbill As is generally the case the species lays later than Guillemots but plenty of birds now on eggs (first egg discovered on 29th April)
Fulmar The average laying date over last thirty years is 15th May…and first egg this year were discovered…on 15th May! The species will incubate for the next 49-53 days…a long incubation indeed!
Kittiwake: The first eggs have been discovered today (16th May), four days behind the average mean laying date for the island.
So as we enter late May we still await the first nesting Arctic Terns, who are settling and will soon be on eggs. We’ll then have the full set and the island will be full of seabirds and this place will be rocking with seabirds. So have you booked a visit?