Wednesday 20th July: As we all bask in the glory of the sunshine (although it was a bit too hot in certain areas of the country?) our seabirds on the Isle of May have been getting on with life as normal (well as normal as they can with the high temperatures and risk of avian influenza). So here is a mid-July update on the various species and what they are up to at this moment in time.
On the cliffs, the first Kittiwake chicks fledged a few days ago but many more have yet to take to the wing. It appears to be another good breeding season for the species, despite the issues of avian influenza. Elsewhere on the cliffs the vast majority of Razorbills and Guillemots have now departed with youngsters for the open sea and won’t be back until late autumn. Their job is done and it’s hard to imagine that they’ll not be breeding again until next April. Family parties of Shags are loafing around the island so plenty of those to see whilst Cormorants were successful in rearing plenty of young off the north end of the Isle. The first Fulmar chicks hatched in early July and are being tendered for by their parents as they won’t fledge until late August.
Down by the jetties, thousands of Terns are flocking as it has been an exceptionally good breeding season (lots of young fledging) although all the Eiders have now departed as they are now congregating in the Firth of Forth for the winter. It won’t be long before we say goodbye to our Puffins as thousands of young have departed for the open sea and adults are showing signs of leaving; that will be it for another year. As for the large Gulls, they (like the Kittiwakes) have been hit by avian influenza but appear to have had an average breeding season.
The seabird breeding season is short and sweet and it’s hard to think that its almost over (it feels like yesterday that we started). However time marches on and we’ll now focus on other things, including reopening the island and preparing for the autumn months ahead. Bring it on!