Day 13 of #30DaysWild: we finally had a day with calm winds! It’s been a busy day and I’m afraid today’s post isn’t particularly elaborate or content-heavy compared to those preceding blogs! I hope you’ve been enjoying the 30 Days Challenge at any rate – I’ve certainly had great fun seeing what others are getting up to and some of the brilliant ideas the initiative is inspiring.
First port of call for today was a check of my two heath moth traps…one at the island’s northern end and another in my garden. Neither contained an overly dazzling selection of moths, but a single Flame Carpet was nice to see; we had the ridiculously-named micro moth Pseudoswammerdamia combinella with a name significantly longer than its own body length; and three smart little Aphodius rufipes Dung Beetles were a great surprise…
Aphodius rufipes is a new Dung Beetle species for both myself and the island: it is fairly widespread in England and Wales but a more local species towards the UK’s polar ends. The specie’s name rufipes literally means ‘red-foot’ in Latin; it is a common visitor to gardens owing to it’s high sensitivity to artificial light, and is highly dispersive to enable the sniffing out of its prized resource: fresh dung
Moving one of the island’s sheep flocks to pastures anew stimulated a feeding frenzy of hirundines across a swathe of grassland: Swallows and House Martins darting and looping about the frisky stock to snap up a feast of insects disturbed from the long grass. It was brilliant watching their superior flight abilities and aerobatic skills in weaving to and fro around the sheep – making rapid snatches of a rogue cranefly with millisecond reactions…
A fair chunk of the day was again spent helping the Bird Observatory’s two assistant wardens Liam Curson and Ephraim Perfect gathering more seabird census data from the precipitous East Side. We continued from where we left off yesterday: counting gulls nests and their contents, Razorbill and Puffin colonies breeding progress, Guillemot colonies and any other seabirds we discovered too.
Being relatively late in the breeding season, many of the breeding auks are now busy rearing chicks with juicy mouthfulls of sand eels, whilst a large percentage of the Shags have actually fledged their young – we even recorded one Shag nest that’s made a start on a second brood! Something I’ve certainly never seen before
Tomorrow looks set to be another day full of the fragrant guano, guttural seabird vocalisations and rather lacerated hands: we’re heading to the Gwylan Islands to complete it’s own seabird census and try to ring as many of the chicks as we can!