Thursday 14th July comments: Both the Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull pairs are down this year from the count in 2014, which saw the highest recorded number of Gull nests on the island with 6,247. Overall 2016 sees an 8% decline in the total number of Gulls with a total of 5,723 pairs, although this is a decline it is still higher than in recent years (5,633 in 2012 and 5,563 in 2010). These population trends are not too unexpected and it’s nothing to be concerned about at the moment.
Both species nest in similar areas on the island, either on the rocky shore or on the island tops. They lay on average two to three eggs and regurgitate food for their chicks. Herring Gulls then stay around the British waters and mainland for the winter whereas Lesser Black-backed Gulls tend to go somewhere a bit warmer heading for Morocco and other parts of Africa.
2016 has seen another increase in the Great Black-backed Gull population with a total of 72 pairs now nesting on the island. The majority of the islands’ large gulls nest on Rona, an area inaccessible to the public north of the main island. They prefer quiet areas away from human presence and get on with raising their young in peace. This year for the second year running, we are colour ringing the Great Black-backed Gull chicks. We are using yellow rings with a four digit code, so keep your eyes peeled and if you see a young Gull check its legs. This will help us determine whether or not the young are coming back to the island to breed, where they go in the winter and their survival rate to adulthood. After we ring the birds we put a lot of effort into reading rings to determine how many birds go on to fledge. Any sightings can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The thousands of breeding Gulls make up a lot of the atmosphere on a visit to the May and they are an entertaining family of birds; their diet, behaviour and characters are so varied. It’s hard to look past that pesky Gull stealing your chips, but these birds are simply adapting to human encroachment on their world. And they seem to do a pretty good job of it.
Tuesday 15th December comments: The moth trap was run for 125 nights during the season from April-October with some good catches and rare discoveries. However weather (rain and wind) along with very occasional power issues meant the trap wasn’t run as much as much as we would have liked.
Despite this a total of seventy-seven different species were recorded during the year with the most numerous being the Silver Y moth. However the Marbled Coronet was recorded on the most number of nights as it was noted on sixty-nine nights from April to August. Interesting rare sightings included the islands first ever records of Pale Pinion, Elephant Hawkmoth, Pepper Moth, Double Lobed and Lesser Treble-bar.
Other scarce moths recorded included Small Phoenix, Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Poplar Hawkmoth, Grey Chi and Pink-barred Swallow. There were several micro moths identified with the highlight of two Thistle Ermine in the trap on 9 July only the second time this species has been recorded on the island (the first was in 2013).