Friday, 19 July 2013

Shear delight

With an uncountable number of Manx Shearwaters currently indulging in diurnal feeding frenzies in Cardigan Bay I thought last night was probably a good time to take a break from Nightjars and head to the coast for a bit of shearwater tape-luring. Having checked with the owners at Wallog that they didn't mind us turning up in the middle of the night Sarah and I arrived, quickly erected a couple of 60ft wader nets on the cliff top and turned on the digital cacophony. My 6-month old pup, Dylan, wasn't at all sure what to make of the weird and wonderfall calls and tore off along the cliff path with his tail firmly between his legs. Response from the shearwaters was instant and thankfully in the opposite direction, but it wasn't until just turned 1am that birds started flying in over the land with the first bird caught at 1.15am . A further nine Manx Shearwaters were caught and ringed between then and dawn, a mere drop in the Irish Sea but nice anyway!

Shearwater have been heard overland at Wallog during the summer for as long as I can remember but no-one has ever proved them breeding. A mainland colony would be very unusual and almost certainly couldn't withstand the depredations of rats, weasels and foxes so these birds are probably just prospecting non-breeders.

Shearwaters take an Foe (F overlapped, elliptical). Just about the trickiest ring to fit but as it has to potentially stay on the bird for over 50 years it's important to get it right!

Go on, get your own back, you know you want to.

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