Sunday, 1 June 2014

LUNDY - Shearwaters and Wagtails

Just returned from a couple of days helping the Mrs with Manx Shearwater monitoring on Lundy Island. We spent a couple of days with help from Beccy, the Lundy Warden, setting out some Manx Shearwater breeding sample plots across different areas of the island. Currently, the whole island is surveyed for Manx Shearwaters every 5-6 years using a method of tape-playback at each and every suitable looking nest burrows to get an accurate idea of how the population is recovering, since the island was officially declared rat free in 2006. This survey takes at least one week of intensive effort covering all the accessible slopes and a team of around 10 surveyors. The idea of the sample plots is that they are small enough to be monitored annually and to give an indication of how the population is doing in between the full surveys every 5-6 years.
Most of the time, the Mrs was cracking the whip and I was on my hands and knees listening for responses from the burrows and walking up and down the steep slopes, so not much time for birding! However, it was very rewarding work, as the results we got seemed to show the population is still increasing - which is great news! The Manx Shearwater population on Lundy was approximately300 pairs in 2001 compared to the last full survey in 2013 which showed there to be just under 3,500 pairs!
We even found a few birds that had already started to re-colonise the recently removed areas of rhododendron. All good stuff and great to see the results so positive after such a hard and long project of ensuring the island became rat free.

Time for birding was few and far between, but a report of a Black-headed Wagtail on my last day enabled me some time to have a look for the bird. The only bird I could find was a Grey-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. thunbergi), that I assumed to be  the bird originally reported as BH Wagtail?
Grey-headed Wagtail is a northern breeder of Scandanavia and a species I recently saw in Finland just a couple of weeks ago, but still a good bird for Devon  and nonetheless a good find for the original finder and good of them to alert me to the bird in the first place......

Manx Sherwaters from the Oldenburg Ferry

Cream Tea Birder surveying the slopes of Lundy for Manx Shearwater

Sika Deer

Lundy Island looking towards Rat Island and the Quay

Cream Tea Bird on the island she has put so much work into for seabirds!

Grey-headed Wagtail

Grey-headed Wagtail

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