15 Jun 2024

First Puffin Island trip of the year - Razorbill rings and Puffins.

We recently had a short break on Anglesey with our two youngest granddaughters ( 3 & 5. We took them on a boat trip round Puffin Island to see the seabirds and seals. After last year's birdflu out break I was a bit worried about what we'd see. Rats have also been an issue in the last few years but an eradication programme organised by the RSPB seems to have been successful. We didn't see any rats whereas in previous years they were everywhere and we encountered signs of egg and young predation. Gnaw stations (choclate impreganted wax blocks) are still deployed and checks suggest around 98% of the rats were eradicated over the winter. Good news indeed! 

Seabird colonies, in other parts of the UK, have been photographed showing huge gaps on ledges traditionally used by Guillemots. I needn't have worried - the colonies were absolutely bustling & I'm glad to say we all saw Puffins! 

Roll forward to the 1st official trip of the year to photograph as many Razorbill rings as I could as part of our long term RAS (retrapping adults for survival) project. My impressions from the previous week's pleasure trip weren't mistaken. The cliff ledges were bustling with activity with Guillemots nesting where we'd never seen them before. Razorbills were also doing well although it appears they're a week or so late egg laying and we only found one chick - plenty of eggs though! 

Despite getting easily distracted by the sights and sounds around me I still managed to photograph approximately 90 Razorbill rings! 

Bridled Guillemots are rare on Puffin Island but this form becomes commoner the further north you go. I always look out for them and was pleased to find at least one in with the tightly packed 'ordinary' Guillemots.

They really are beautiful looking birds.

Many of the Shags nests had young in with quite a few already at the 'runner' stage but with many more still on eggs.

Good numbers of Kittiwakes were also hanging around on their nesting ledges with birds being seen in areas they'd previously deserted. Hopefully this bodes well for this species that has seen a rapid decline on Puffin Island with only single figures of chicks being ringed in some years recently. I was surprised to see a 2nd calendar year bird flying around the cliffs.

No trip to Puffin Island would be complete without the obligatory Puffin photos and these feisty little 'sea parrots' posed up a storm. Unfortunately they're much warier than the Razorbills who, if you sit quietly, get curious enough to approach you. A shame as one was ringed but I couldn't get close enough to photograph or read the ring number.

Ringed Puffin

Plenty of gulls nests were found as well. Some of the Herring Gulls have already hatched but lots of nests had eggs that were 'chipping' with young birds egg tooth's just poking through the shell.

A great day and very productive. I'm looking forward to our 1st ringing trip of the year with eager anticipation. 

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