Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Manxies and gulls...


A few more images from Skokholm below...

Chris and Barbara Payne, Kenny Cramer and Eirwen Edwards are the remaining ringers on the island from the NRG contingent and had a great catch of big gulls which was made up of 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 6 Herring Gulls. 

They have been steadily ringing more Manx Shearwaters at night as these birds crash-land amongst the vegetation on there way to nesting burrows. Over the water 'Manxies' are fast-moving birds which really know how to career quickly and low over the waves. When they fly over land at night, it is possible to hear the 'sewing machine' wing-beats (similar sound to Golden Plover). However on the ground they are ponderous and vulnerable, all the grace in the air lost as they shuffle around and struggle to take to the air again. 

It is at this time that they are caught by adult Great Black-backed Gulls which make short work of them, and effectively turn them inside out to consume all the available flesh. These and Rabbits seem to make up the staple diet of the twenty or so pairs of GBb Gulls on the island. All the corpses are counted and every morning there is fresh evidence of the nocturnal predatory habits of these huge gulls. During 2015 well over 2,000 adult 'Manxies' have been predated, a running total similar to last year's figures. This study will be analysed to establish if it is having a long term effect on the productivity of the local Manx Shearwater populations on both Skokholm and nearby Skomer.


Neil M


Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull

Adult Great Black-backed Gull
with the grisly remains of yet another
predated Manx Shearwater.
Interestingly this gull
appears to be depicting grey/dull green
 legs and feet, normally a feature of the other
big black-backed gull of the world, Kelp Gull!

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