The Percentage game

Friday 29th May comments: As we approach the end of May (where has time gone?) and like many seabird colonies in the UK, the Isle of May is fast approaching the crucial part of the season. Over the next two months lots of young will hatch and hopefully go on to fledge off the island and the season will be done! It’s incredible just how quickly a seabird season can turn around but at the end of the day these birds are pelagic species and prefer to be out at sea rather than on land as they are at greater risk from such things as predation.

When you consider the lifestyle of these seabirds, the figures reveal just how little time they actually spend on land and here are some examples…

Puffins will return to the island in late March and spend April, May, June and July and occasional early August on the island, which means that they spend only 35% of their year on the Isle of May. For other seabird species it will be less time as species such as Guillemots and Razorbills may spend as little as 28% of their year on the island. For other birds it will be much long, as Shags may spend up to 44% of their year nesting as birds return to roost during the autumn and winter months.

The most extreme is arguably the Fulmar which returns to the cliff ledges in April before eventually fledging their chick in early September. The incubation period can last between 49-53 days with the chick rearing over another 46-51 days. In total a Fulmar can spend 45% of its year on the island in the breeding season. Its interesting statistics and makes you appreciate that these birds really are SEAbirds!

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