Wednesday, 21 December 2011
The bird was indeed a curlew and it was rung as a nestling on 28 May this year (2011) in the middle of Finland.
This is the joy of ringing. After a whole summer of turning over carcasses and looking at dead birds legs this is the reminder of why we do it. To me it is fascinating to think of the (short ) life of this individual bird and what it has seen and done. The wonders of Google maps show me that the area where is it was rung is just south east of the centre of Finland, in an area of huge lakes. After fledging it has made a journey of 1877km if it flew in a straight line though of course the distance would have been much further. What was its route ? I don't know, either west through Scandinavia and then to Scotland or down to the Baltic states and the south edge of the Baltic may be. Either way it is a big undertaking even for a bird the size of a curlew, especially as it was directed by instinct having never made the journey before. And on once it reach the island it just passed on its energy to a bird of prey like a baton by a relay runner. Such is the natural world.
Friday, 9 December 2011
And across the island were weaners everywhere. These are newly weaned grey seal pups who have bulked up on a high fat diet from mum but haven't yet got the motivation to move on with the next stage of their lives. You have to be careful as you go around the island as they can literally be everywhere. Lurking in muddy pools.
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Monday morning and a rushed trip out to the island to help with the closing down. Storms are forecast for later on in the week and the seal researchers have finished their work for the year so it is time to help them get their stuff off, drain down the water system and close down the buildings for the winter....and quickly. But in between cleaning out cupboards, bagging laundry and other such joyful tasks I had a chance to wander around the island. Many of the seals have left the island already, it seems like either a very early season or not so many pups as usual have been born this year but there were still plenty dotted around all corners. Most of these are weaners, that is this years pups whose mothers have feed them and then left them. They lie around for a while wondering when their next feed is coming before eventually heading out to sea. If you go quietly you can get quite close to them and it gave me a chance to have a closer look at these amazing animals.
But there are always some pups that don't make it, one of the seal researchers, Jo is trying to find out why this is. Even dead they go to provide food for a whole range of creatures that eat carrion and break down carcasses such as gulls, crows, burying beetles and blowflies.