Tuesday 13th September comments: Every year David and Margaret Thorne plus others (Harry, the last couple of years) have studied the islands’ pair of Manx Shearwater and this is their update.
Our single pair of Manx Shearwaters has had another successful breeding season with their youngster fledging early on the morning of 11th September. Given that the male returned this year on 24th March, there has been a presence on the island for 172 days to bring this to fruition. Contrary to published opinion that Manx Shearwater parents abandon their young prior to fledging, ours attended the chick in the burrow up to and beyond the time it left, as they have done previously.
Last night the female cleaned out from the burrow the detritus of a season’s occupation ready for a return next spring. All three birds will now undertake the long migration south across the Equator to spend our winter in the austral summer off Brazil. The adults will cross the South Atlantic early in the New Year to fly north again. After coming up the coast of Africa, they are most likely to cross to the west to follow the eastern seaboard of North America and then cross the North Atlantic to be back at the end of March. After a couple of years ‘down south’ the young bird should follow the same route to return north, we hope, to its natal colony here on the Isle of May, though we have no evidence that this pair’s previous chicks have done so.