The first chicks have hatched on the Amos! The little balls of fluff poke their tiny bills around the parents’ wing trying to escape their protectors’ clutches, but so far they have been nestled safely back into position wedged between the parent and the cliff face. It will be interesting to see if and how behaviours change as more chicks hatch…
I am super excited to see the first hatchlings, particularly as fieldwork has felt a bit relentless for the last few weeks. The constant early mornings and long days have taken their toll on my behaviour a few times (much to my housemates’ amusement!) and the weather has been frustrating for data collection: guillemots behave very differently and are unidentifiable when it rains, and the serious wind and fog has made the hide shaky and the journey to the site pointless. However, the few breaks from the hide have given me time to concentrate on other aspects of my research, from a slightly cosier place generally involving pyjamas.
Joyfully breaking up the would-be monotony of the last few weeks were several lovely visitors. It was great to see TRB and JET for a few days, who brought with them the biggest block of cheddar I have ever seen. Naturally, it was gone within a week. We had a few lovely evenings eating dinner outside in the sun, and some interesting guillemot-related discussions.
L-R: Julie, Tim, me and Jamie, enjoying an evening in the sun
The wonderful CBC and TKK popped over too, and between them brought all the gin, fruit, sweet goodies, tea and a Momma Wills malt loaf – what a haul! I enjoyed seeing the island through fresh eyes, since after 8 weeks of living here I have grown almost accustomed to the dramatic rock falls, crashing waves, rolling green hills and squawking seabirds. That is not to say that I no longer appreciate my current location (I do!) but that I seem to have adapted to the way of life on this ‘tropical paradise island’ (TKK)!
Tiny baby rabbits are bobbing everywhere, the bluebells have disappeared and the bracken is growing up quickly. The gulls are more aggressive when protecting their chicks, and I am frequently mobbed when walking near their colonies. Two volunteers from the University of Gloucestershire have arrived to look at the Manx Shearwaters and beetles for the week, so our kitchen is now rather busy. Cat’s birthday brought everyone on the island together for a lot of gin and a lot more cake.
Bird of the day: Guillemot chicks of course! Also, I have finally seen the elusive Skomer Vole! It took some dedicated searching under the lizard quadrats, and it scurried away before we could get photographic evidence, but I can assure you that the Skomer Vole is present. Joy!