After a few days home I am back onto the island and am here to stay for the next month. This is the really busy time with the seabirds building up to peak season and lots of researchers and visitors coming to see the birds. And today it blew an absolute hoolie. 28 intrepid souls made it across in the May Princess and despite a few suffering from the mal de mer, were rewarded for their bravery with a fantastic puffin day. On these very windy days the puffins hang about on the west cliffs with their faces into the wind. This makes it easier for them to take off, puffins have proportionally small wings which need to be flapped very fast. They can fly pretty well but it is the stopping and starting that they aren't very good at but a bit of wind gives them lift. One puffin that flew over was making a very strange noise and I saw that one of its feet had got tangled in a carrier bag which was streaming behind it. Another case of the ever present plastic and the effect that it can have on wildlife, in this case many miles from where it was first discarded. Oh and just to keep you up to date with the beer shag (mentioned in the posting 3rd April) that had the plastic rings that hold beer cans together wrapped around its neck. It was caught, disentangled and released and is now getting on with the serious business of feeding chicks. Lets hope the puffin also gets free to have a successful season maybe this is a reminder to please dispose of your plastic responsibly.
The terns have come back in stronger numbers in the last week and we really hope that they have a successful breeding year after the last couple of very poor ones. There are reasonable numbers up at the Beacon and in the Priory but they need a few more to have the sort of numbers that make a strong colony that can repel the gulls that try to eat their eggs and chicks. Today the terns seemed to spend more time on the ground perhaps just to stay out of the wind. Up at the Beacon the wind was gusting so much that I saw one tern sitting on the ground blown over and for a fleeting moment its little red feet paddled in the air.
The cold, wet and windy weather hasn't suited some of the island inhabitants. We set a moth trap every night that attracts in and holds the moths so that they can be identified and released unharmed in the morning, but so far there have been very moths around. However two in the trap this morning were worth looking at. The Marbled Coronet is very common on the island as the food plant of its caterpiller, sea campion, is everywhere. It is beautifully decorated and a perfect match for a lichen covered wall.
The Spectacle is not so much of a spectacle when you first look at it and you wonder why it gets its name...
....until you look at it head-on and it all becomes obvious. But why has it evolved to have those eyes ?
Not all of the wildlife on the Isle of May is as obvious as the terns and the puffins so here is a bit of coverage for some of the bit part actors.
Though the wind was cold these 2 rabbits found a nice bit of shelter to sunbath. I thought that they had been run over until they saw me and scampered off.
...while these 2 shared some spoils found by the picnic tables (I wish people would pick up their rubbish).
And these 2 pigeons were playing Romeo and Juliet in the Priory while the terns went potty arond them.