Sunday 28th June comments: As we approach the end of June we are now about to complete our third week back on the island. Although we missed April-May we have still managed to catch-up with the breeding seabirds and can bring you the latest news (well what we have so far).
It was evident that the majority of seabirds were raising chicks on staff returning to the island as Shags had both small and medium sized young in early June with the first fledgling leaving the cliffs on 22nd June. The auks were feeding youngsters with Guillemots and Razorbills all with chicks and the first fledgers were starting to jump off the cliffs from 23rd June. Small numbers of Puffins had hatched young by the time staff returned to the island with the majority of the colony hatching by mid-June. As usual, Kittiwakes appeared to have started later than most birds with the first young hatching from 14th June whilst Fulmars were still incubating with the first chicks not expected to hatch until early July.
On the island top, the Terns were well settled with the first Arctic Terns chicks hatching from 17th June whilst the majority of Eiders had completed their breeding season with very few evident by the time staff returned (small numbers were seen leaving for the open sea with ducklings). The large Gull species were (as expected) very vocal and very evident.
We still have plenty to go and the next four weeks are really crucial for our seabirds as it will make or break the season. Although we are currently experiencing some poor weather, we need a good July with plenty of sand-eels (prey) being brought in and then hopefully we can celebrate thousands of youngsters leaving for the open sea and a successful season. However these are seabirds and anything is possible, but lets just hope it all goes well.