Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Common Sandpiper was on the South End this morning and a Garden Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher had arrived in the Withies. At the Lighthouse the House Martins have fledged at least four young and 17 Swifts were feeding around the tower. The highlight has been another visit to the nearby Gwylan Islands.

The main purpose of the visit was to count and ring Puffins. Each monogamous pair raises a single chick deep in an underground burrow. As might be expected on a small island which holds approximately 800 pairs, these burrows have become interlinked and it can prove difficult to feel for the chicks within such a complex maze. We did quite well however and managed to furtle out lots of these smart pufflings. The chicks remain underground for approximately 40 days before taking to see at night; they will probably not return to land for two or three years and will not breed until they are about five. (c) Richard Brown

We also caught several adults. The fantastic blue and yellow portions of the bill are actually made up of horny plates which separate and fall off at the end of the breeding season. The blue plates above and below the eye will also drop off in the near future. (c) Richard Brown

Apparently the people of St. Kilda used to use puffins to flavour their porridge. (c) Richard Brown

Bardsey on another beautiful sunny day with clouds developing over the nearby mainland (above) and the view towards Bardsey as the first pilgrims would have seen it as they departed St. Mary's Well. (c) Richard Brown

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