Chough report: January 2017

Early morning at Stinky Bay where the juveniles have been hanging out. Photo by Liz Corry.

by Liz Corry

New Year, new adventures. That appears to be the motto of the juveniles, in particular the foster chicks who have taken a liking to the bay at Le Pulec, known to locals as “Stinky Bay”. This area is just below Battery Moltke, Les Landes, where we reported the choughs were last month. So not a surprise, but certainly an interesting addition to their home range. The bay has plenty of rotting seaweed, hence the name, harbouring insects attractive to many shorebirds. Are the choughs also exploiting this food resource as Scottish choughs do?

Seaweed collects by the sea wall defence providing birds with plenty of invertebrates to feed off. Photo by Liz Corry.

So far our observations suggest not. Trying my best to avoid analogies to a certain president and his wall, there is a current divide between the shore birds foraging below the sea wall defence and the choughs probing the loose soil on the other side.

Dozens of rock pipits were down at Stinky Bay to raid the strandline for tasty morsels. Photo by Liz Corry.

Black redstart at Le Pulec joining in on the breakfast feast. Photo by Liz Corry.

That may change as January’s freezing temperatures restrict the amount of food available in the coastal grassland forcing the choughs to look for alternative sources. The choughs were definitely more hungry this month than last. Wing-begging at staff is just one way to determine how hungry each individual is. Having the entire group of 35 stalk staff from the public car park along the cliff path to the aviary shows just how little wild food is available. They also had a great desire to cache food in preparation for the cold days that lay ahead. Something I think the magpies have cottoned on to as I observed a pair promptly dig up a stash once the unsuspecting chough had left.

The first time the juveniles were spotted alone at Le Pulec there was concern that they might not have the gumption to make it out of the bay and back to the aviary. Would they find enough food in the bay?

View over Le Pulec and L’Etacq from the Battery Moltke where the juveniles have been spending their mornings. Photo by Liz Corry.

I had spent the first hour of the morning above the bay at Les Landes trying to pinpoint the radio signals.  When I arrived at Le Pulec car park and walked around to look across the bay I could make out six chough shapes on the cliff face, but couldn’t identify them. Until that is, they took to the air calling excitedly and four choughs flew over to land behind me within 5 metres of where I stood.

Vicq and Wally flying to greet the keeper at Le Pulec. Photo by Liz Corry.

In a roll-call fashion I ticked off Ubé, Wally, Vicq, and Xaviour, i.e. the four foster chicks, from the list of missing choughs. Once they realised I had no food for them they re-joined the other two juveniles in the bay.  By 10:50 I had to leave so I could put the supplemental feed out at Sorel. On arrival at Sorel twenty minutes later the entire flock greeted me, headed up by none other than Ubé, Wally, Vicq, and Xaviour!

Choughs foraging at Sorel. Photo by Liz Corry.

This demonstrates how well the birds have learnt to associate the aviary with food, how they can map out the land, and how they somehow know what time it is!

The older choughs have also been spending more time away from Sorel although they don’t seem to wander as far. Crabbé is still a favourite for them. They like flying around Plémont and have been seen at Les Landes, but in terms of foraging they prefer to stay within sight of Sorel.

Twenty-two choughs congregating on the roof of Crabbé Farm. The rest of the group were over on the west coast. Photo by Liz Corry.

The choughs at Crabbé tried their best to find food in the fields despite frost and formidable chickens. Photo by Liz Corry.

Lee and Caûvette are still doing their thing over at Les Landes in the mornings. Inching far too close to peregrine territory for our liking. Especially now the juveniles are following their lead.

Seven choughs (yellow arrow) foraging on the cliffs by the Pinacle. Three had radio-transmitters attached making it a bit easier to locate and identify them. Photo by Liz Corry.

There is another pair, Bean and Kevin, who have started playing truant at the morning feed although not as frequent as yet to suspect anything. We may struggle in future weeks to identify individuals as some of the plastic rings are snapping off. Notably breeding males Dingle and Green have lost rings. Once the repair work on the aviary is completed, we should be able to trap birds inside once again allowing rings to be replaced before the breeding season kicks off.

Red has been missing her red leg ring for sometime. Now with the others losing theirs we need to catch her up to fit a new red ring. Photo by Liz Corry.

Bird flu precautions

With cases of bird flu being declared in France and the UK we are taking various precautions within the Zoo to minimise the threat to our collection in Jersey. For this reason staff working on the chough project are changing footwear when entering zoo grounds, a disinfection footbath and separate wellies are in use at Sorel aviary, and chough food is being prepared away from the Zoo Bird Kitchen to reduce any potential cross-contamination.

To date bird flu has not been recorded in the Channel Islands. However, the States Vet is asking Islanders to be cautious and follow recommendations including reporting dead birds to the States Veterinary Office. Click here for more information.

Ube and Wally checking themselves for bird flu. Photo by Liz Corry.

Free-falling for choughs!

Simon Inman, our current student placement on the chough project, is loving his time at Durrell so much that he is going to jump 10,000 feet from a plane!

Student Simon Inman is raising funds for the choughs and Durrell through a sponsored skydive.

That sentence might need re-wording, but essentially Simon is going to do a skydive in summer and would like to raise funds for the choughs at the same time. So if you would like to support the choughs, and Simon’s craziness, please click here to visit his JustGiving page and donate.

His fundraising target is £150 which will pay for camera equipment for the nest box in the display aviary at the Zoo. We hope to set up a wireless network to send live footage direct to a PC and our smartphones.

Last year, the pair in that aviary successfully reared two chicks for the first time. A third unfortunately died. We might have been able to save it if we could have observed nest activity in real time and intervened at the first sign of decline.

Any donations will be gratefully received.

Plus, if you all donate money it makes it harder for him to back out at 10, 000 feet in the air!

Wild About Jersey 11-12 February 2107

Grass snake. Photo by Kristian BellEco active logoInterested in Jersey’s wildlife and how you can make a difference? Join us at Wild About Jersey

Come along to Acorn Enterprises, Trinity on 11th & 12th February 2017

This two day celebration of Jersey’s wildlife is open to all with free entry. There will be stalls, displays, activities, talks and training workshops given by a range of local and national speakers.

Saturday 11th February

Talks

A series of talks offered to all who are interested, which will showcase environmental projects happening in Jersey that could do with a helping hand. No need to book, take your pick!

10:00 Making the Difference: The Seasearch Observer Project. Kevin McIlwee, Jersey Seasearch.

10:30 It’s all about scale(s): An uncertain future for Jersey’s grass snakes. Rob Ward, University of Kent.

11:00 The National Plant Monitoring Scheme: Developing a new volunteer-based plant monitoring scheme. Dr Oliver Pescott, National Biological Records Centre.

11:30 The Coastline Campaign: Making a difference. Charles Alluto and Jon Parkes, National Trust for Jersey.

12:00 Earthworms of the UK: A Quest to know more. Emma Sherlock, Earthworm Society of Britain, Natural History Museum, London

12:30 – 13:00 Earthworm Watch Lunchtime Survey Join members of the Earthworm Society of Britain in our Earthworm Watch survey. This involves digging for earthworms, checking which of the three groups they belong to (and what they do to the soil) and checking the soil type where they were found. It might involve slightly muddy hands (but gloves will be provided!)

Training workshops (Choose One) 13:30 – 15:30

Training offered to all, providing an opportunity for everyone to get involved in scientific research.

National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) – Rob Ward & Nina Cornish

Training in amphibian and reptile identification, habitat assessment, survey methods, recording, health & safety. Including advanced skills for grass snake surveying, highlighting the issues in detecting grass snakes in Jersey and how to improve your chances of finding them. We will provide guidance and training on what data should be collected.

National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) – Oliver Pescott & Anne Haden

This workshop will begin with an overview of the NPMS scheme, and how to identify areas to survey. This will be followed by a field trip, meeting at Les Landes primary school car park. The field survey will explore the areas chosen in the classroom. If time allows, some identification of plants will also be demonstrated.

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Sunday 12th February

Talks

No need to book, take your pick!

10:00 Corks, Pellets & Rings. Bob Tompkins, Jersey Barn Owl Conservation.

10:30 Wildlife in urban and suburban habitats. Attitudes, challenges and opportunities. Sue Clarke, Wessex Environmental Consultants.

11:00 10 Years of Toadwatch. Nina Cornish, SoJ Natural Environment Team

11:30 Winter is coming…and it’ll be fine: A lifeline for farmland birds. Cristina Sellares, Birds On The Edge.

12:00 Lighting the Spark: Connecting children to nature to inspire environmental stewardship. Stephen Le Quesne, Wild Jersey.

Training workshops (Choose One) 13:30 – 15:30

Jersey Conservation Volunteers – Julia Meldrum and Piers Sangan

Habitat management at Grouville Marsh. Willow management and dead hedging along the stream edge. Bring hand saws, loppers, secateurs, gloves (some provided)… and wellies!! Followed by Kim’s Kakes and a cuppa! Meet at Longbeach car park, Grouville.

Jersey Butterfly Monitoring Scheme – Sue Clarke and Denise McGowan

Learn the basic techniques in identification and monitoring of Jersey’s butterflies and what this citizen science program has taught us. Training in identifying common species provided

Tea, coffee and food available to purchase from Acorn Café all day

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Jersey’s Great Garden Birdwatch this weekend – 4th and 5th February 2017

Male blackbird. Photo by Mick DrydenAnother year gone and once again its time to count the birds in our gardens during the Action for Wildlife, Birds On The Edge and Jersey Evening Post Great Garden Birdwatch. Few things show us more how the environment around us, our own living-space, is faring than looking at the birds that have chosen to live alongside us. If all is well there it shows that our environment is healthy while, conversely, obvious declines in bird numbers suggest that all is not well at home.

Action for Wildlife

 

 

 

 

JEP logo

Blackbird. Garden Bird Watch 2002-2016Analysis of sightings from the previous 15 years of this survey makes it very obvious that not all our favourite garden birds are faring so well and that populations are changing dramatically. But, how exactly do we know. Well, through as many people as possible counting them. And not just birdwatchers but everyone who likes birds because, let’s face it, everyone does like birds. And they are often easy to count because they can Greenfinch. Garden Bird Watch 2002-2016be pretty obvious especially when they come into our gardens to the food we put out for them. Data shown by the survey are very important in highlighting what is happening in our wider environment and, while not covering the whole countryside, results do bring home to everyone wider concerns. Just think, if the birds are doing badly in our gardens where we feed and protect them, what is happening out there in the rest of the world.

Greenfinch (2). Photo by Regis Perdriat

House sparrow. Garden Bird Watch 2002-2016So, please, over this weekend follow the guidelines printed below or in today’s JEP and tell us what birds you see. We can add up all the counts (we have 15 years’ worth already) and easily pick up changes that are happening right in front of us. Will there be even fewer greenfinches than last year and will wood pigeons have finally taken over our bird tables?  We call this ‘citizen science’ so consider yourself all citizen scientists!

And don’t forget. For this survey, squirrels can consider themselves birds so please count them too if you see any.

How to enter the survey

Counters should note the highest number of each species of bird that are seen together at one time during that period – not the total number which enter your garden over the period of the watch.

Survey forms and a handy identification guide will be published in the JEP on Thursday the 2nd and all data received will be passed on to La Société Jersiaise to add to their records and included in Birds On The Edge bird monitoring analyses.

Completed forms can be posted in or delivered to the JEP. You can also send in your records online through this website here from the weekend.

Download the record form here

House sparrow (2). Photo by Mick Dryden

 

Chough report: December 2016

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By Liz Corry

Winter 2015: Jersey’s re-established chough population takeover Crabbé shooting range.

Winter 2016: the choughs occupy former WW2 coastal artillery Battery Moltke.

Winter 2017?: Be afraid, be very afraid!

Or rejoice in the fact that the choughs are now becoming more at home in Jersey, expanding their range, and slightly less reliant on the aviary at Sorel.

The choughs were on the move again in December. Photo by Liz Corry.

Binoculars and patience needed at this site to ID the choughs. Photo by Liz Corry

Crabbé is even more appealing to the choughs this winter compared to 2015. A local farmer has moved sheep onto land by the shooting range. This area is halfway between Sorel and Les Landes (as the chough flies) making it a convenient rest stop if the weather isn’t at all brilliant for flying.

Or if the birds simply want a peaceful getaway from the hubbub of the flock.

Yarila, one of the Paradise Park chicks, likes this area. She seems to prefer hanging out with a few of the older birds rather than the other youngsters. Luckily for us she still has her transmitter making it easier to follow her movements.

Yarila with the antennae of her tail-mounted transmitter visible. Photo by Liz Corry

The view from the farmhouse chimney at Crabbé also holds appeal as shown below by Lee and Caûvette.

Lee and Cauvette doing their best Dick Van Dyke impressions on top of the farmhouse chimney. Photo by Liz Corry.

However, as we learnt last month their favourite location away from Sorel is out west at Les Landes and down to the Battery Moltke. Lee and Caûvette continue to stay down at the racecourse until flying back to Sorel around 1pm to 2pm in time for the 3pm supplemental feed. The radio-tracked youngsters spend time in the same area, but fly back to Sorel for the 11am feed. We tend not to see the entire group at Les Landes at the same time. Generally 16 or so stay back at Devil’s Hole or Sorel. Although the public, through reports, have seen groups between 20 and 30 birds.

The choughs have been hanging out along the cliffs at Rouge Nez, St Ouen. Photo by Liz Corry

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Inside the rifle targets at Les Landes. Photo by Liz Corry

Panoramic view of Rouge Nez to Les Maillots (left to right). Photo by Liz Corry.

A British nickname for a chough is the ‘sea crow’ which certainly applies in Jersey. Photo by Liz Corry.

Back at Sorel there has been very little to report over December. It has been a very mild winter to date. Less demanding for the choughs in terms of energy expenditure. They still get just as dirty getting stuck in to looking for insects in soil, sandy cliffs, and animal dung.

Choughs lack table manners when it comes to eating. Photo by Liz Corry.

They are still stealing the sheep pellet Ewen and Aaron put out for the Loaghtans. Apt timing as we have been looking into an alternative diet to provide at the aviary. After looking at nutritional values, potential palatability, and cost-effectiveness of various avian pelleted diets the vet and I chose to try Orlux Remiline pellet with the choughs in the Zoo. Since they are confined to their aviary and there are less of them than out at Sorel it made it easier to see if they ate the pellet and in a more controlled environment.

Bird Department keepers measured how much of the standard diet was being eaten over a period of five days. Then measured how much was being eaten when 50% of that diet was substituted with the pellet. As expected the birds initially preferred their original diet. No one likes change. They did, however, eat the pellet. In the New Year the choughs at Sorel will be introduced to the pellet and we will monitor how it goes. At a tenth of the cost of Orlux, I’m also going to investigate the sheep pellet!

Could sheep food be an alternative supplemental diet for the released choughs? Photo by Liz Corry

A few of the older birds are starting to lose their original colour rings. The material has become brittle and is snapping as evident from the pieces of one found in the aviary. The rings are designed for use on gulls and should, therefore, be fairly tolerant of cliff top conditions. At present everyone can still be identified by one means or another. Which meant when it came time for the annual audit on 31st December we could say with confidence that Jersey has 35 choughs living wild; 12 male, 23 female.

All 35 ‘wild’ choughs were accounted for on the annual animal audit day 2016. Photo by Liz Corry.

In other news…

One of our ex-students Paul Pestana returned from his travels in Asia. With a beaming smile on his face he sat us down to show us a very specific selection of holiday snaps. Whilst camping and hiking in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan he recognised an all too familiar sound. Choughs! Both red-billed choughs and alpine (yellow-billed) choughs were present. Below are a selection of photos he has kindly shared with us. It is hard to know which is more impressive his find or the scenery where he found them.

Red-billed chough in Tajikistan. Minus the mountain in the background, it felt very similar to watching choughs living in the quarry back in Jersey. Photo by Paul Pestana.

Lake Ala-Kol, Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Paul Pestana.

Lake Ala-Kol, Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Paul Pestana.

Alpine choughs in Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Paul Pestana.

Chough report: November 2016

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By Liz Corry

With thirty-five choughs now flying around Jersey at their leisure, the field team certainly clocked up the mileage in November trying to keep track of them. Aside from navigating the green lanes of Jersey, the team also had to deal with servicing the aviary in gale force storms, juveniles losing their radio-transmitters, and uninvited house guests.

Post-release monitoring

Monitoring the choughs in November divided the team in two directions. Photo by Liz Corry.

We continue to radio-track the 2016 release cohort to find out how far they disperse and which areas in Jersey they favour. The youngsters tend to stay together which makes it easy to follow them.

Durrell’s parent-reared prodigy, Trevor, will occasionally favour hanging out with the sub-adult group which means he drops off our radar. He has been found with a group over at Les Landes from time to time. He may be going further afield.

One of our Bird Keepers, Kathryn Smith, spotted a small group flying over Gorselands on her day off. We know the sub-adults have flown over there in previous years and there was a report back in October of choughs at Beauport. Kathryn’s sighting was somewhat unusual since it was later in the day at a time when the group normally stay put at Sorel. Could this be the start of something new?

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Sunrise search at Beauport. No choughs, but at least the view paid off. Photo by Liz Corry.

Reports of choughs on the south-west coast of Jersey this month kept the team on their toes. Photo by Liz Corry.

We don’t know if Trevor has made it over to the south of the Island. Now we may never know, unless we can see his leg rings since he has lost his radio transmitter. By the end of November, a total of four choughs had lost their transmitters out of the group of eleven; Trevor, Ubè, Duke, and Zennor. This is an unusually high number for us to lose within the first two months of use. In each case the middle tail feather, to which the transmitter is fitted, has become detached rather than the transmitter slipping its fastening.

Trevor has lost his radio-transmitter and is now only identifiable by his red and orange leg rings. Photo by Liz Corry.

We still have seven with transmitters and because they tend to stay in groups we have a fairly good record of where the other youngsters are. We get extra assistance with monitoring via the farmland bird transects carried out by volunteers across the island. The choughs have now been recorded on the transects at Crabbé, Les Landes, Les Creux, and of course Sorel.

Choughs flying over the Crabbé transect. Photo by Maddie Rusman.

Lee and Caûvette take up residency at Les Landes

Lee and Caûvette have been inseparable over the past year. Lee was imported from Paradise Park in 2015 and released a month later. At that point Caûvette, one of our hand-reared females, had already been flying around Jersey for a year. She played it cool, eventually falling for his charm and now they go everywhere together. Next year, at the ages of two and three-years-old, they should begin to show an interest in breeding.

They may well have already started planning ahead. Their absence at the morning feed was noted several times this month and has now become the norm. They always show up for the afternoon feed and stay around to roost out at Sorel. By sunrise they are gone (unless its horrible weather and then they can’t be bothered to travel anywhere and who can blame them).

Radio-tracking choughs (?) at Les Landes. Photo by Bea Detnon.

“I said they look like slender crows, not cows!” – Liz. Photo by Bea Detnon

They spend their mornings at Les Landes either pilfering the race course or gleaning the cliffs for insects. In between feeding they like to hang out on one of the many concrete structures dotted along the cliff tops, remnants of the German occupation during World War II. Gun turrets, bunkers, and look-out towers to name a few. Hated by some Jersey residents, loved by the choughs.

WW2 German observation tower sits on the cliff top at Les Landes constructed during the occupation. Photo by Liz Corry.

The rest of the flock visit the area, but not as regularly and there always seems to be a slight division between the pair and the others whilst feeding. As an unsuspecting springer spaniel out for a walk can attest for. Lee, closely followed by Caûvette, appeared out of nowhere, flew towards the dog, and landed within two metres shouting at the confused animal. Suddenly six other choughs flew up from the cliffs behind and it became clear that Lee’s disapproval was not at the dog’s presence, but the other choughs in his patch.

It will be interesting to see if the pair continue to visit Les Landes throughout winter. We would like to attach a radio-transmitter to Lee prior to the breeding season to get a clearer idea of what they get up to. However, that means we need him to return to the aviary for  the morning feed so we can catch him. Leaving it until the afternoon feed is not practical whilst roosting time is so close together. That certainly isn’t happening anytime soon.

Lee has taken a liking to the headland at Les Landes. Photo by Liz Corry.

The release aviary suffered minor damage in Storm Angus. Photo by Liz Corry.

Storm Angus

The aviary took a battering from Storm Angus towards the end of November. Fortunately most of the damage was cosmetic.

A side panel blew off and the signposts cracked under pressure. The timber support running down the middle of the poly-tunnel snapped and needs replacing. A couple of the hinges on the hatches have been bent out of shape which means we cannot close them. We discovered this the hard way when we tried to catch up one of the birds to fit a radio-transmitter.

The framework on the poly-tunnel has a noticeable lean to it now as well. Although after surviving three winters I’m not sure all the blame can be put on Angus. Hopefully, we can address these issues before there is any serious damage.

Friends with benefits

Friends with benefits – a small flock of sheep has been moved into the aviary field. Photo by Liz Corry.

Whilst we complain about the onset of winter, the shepherd out at Sorel has already turned his thoughts to spring and preparations for next year’s lambing season. A select group of ewes were moved off the cliff tops into the aviary field to join one very excited ram.

A ram and his ewes moved into the aviary field this month Photo by Liz Corry.

They are provided with lots of extra food whilst confined to the field. To our surprise the choughs have taken a liking to some of the sheep’s food. A bit cheeky since they have their own.

The choughs stealing food put out for the sheep. Photo by Liz Corry.

Uninvited house guest(s)

Over the years the release aviary has been of interest to a number of species other than the choughs. As soon as the aviary was built, the local kestrels started perching on the roof to scope out the fields and hedgerows. Stonechats, robins, and magpies have all benefited from the supplemental feed. Magpies being the only bird species to venture inside the aviary with the choughs to dine.

The aviary structure itself and spillage from supplemental feed makes it attractive to rodents, typically mice and shrews. Feral ferrets have also shown an interest, luckily from the outside only.

Over the past three years we have found the odd owl pellet now and then on the shelving outside the aviary. Last month we started getting pellets on a daily basis INSIDE the aviary! Now we know why.

It took a week of recording before we got a glimpse of a barn owl. A few days later this video showing a second owl stunned us all. Two barn owls have been using the aviary to hunt and eat. The owls only visit at night. The choughs don’t appear to mind sharing. Probably because they are asleep at the time. We have at least a dozen birds who choose to roost in the aviary and they haven’t changed their behaviour with the presence of the owls.

VIP visitor

At the start of November we welcomed Paradise Park keeper Logan Ody to the island. Logan spent the first week attending the Avian Egg Incubation workshop held at the Durrell Training Academy and run by staff from Los Angeles Zoo and Durrell. This workshop is designed to equip the participant with the necessary skills to artificially incubate a wide range of avian species increasing captive breeding success. Skills which have been put into full use on the chough project over the past four years.

When the five day workshop finished, Logan joined the Bird Department to see behind the scenes then headed out to Sorel to spend his last two days with the choughs. Some of which Logan helped rear back at Paradise Park and could now see flying around Jersey. His enthusiasm for the project had a huge impact on staff. His penchant for wearing shorts on a cliff top in a blustery November was less contagious. Maybe its a Cornish thing?

Paradise Park keeper, Logan Oddy (right) learning how to radio-track choughs with Durrell student Bea Detnon (left). Photo by Liz Corry

 

January volunteer activity

ne-im-victoria-tower-01-03-15Sunday 8th January 2017 – Victoria Tower, St Martin – 10:30-12.30

Join the National Trust Rangers at Victoria Tower on Sunday 8th January 2017 for the first Jersey Conservation Volunteers task of the year.

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

The details

One of our long-term objectives for this site is to enhance the abundance and diversity of native wildflowers growing amongst the grassland, thereby increasing the provision of pollen and nectar for pollinating insects. With this in mind we would like you to help us establish some small trial areas where native wildflower seeds will be sown. The native species to be sown have been carefully selected based on their attractiveness to pollinators as well as the results of soil tests undertaken earlier in the year. Before the task begins we will go through the soil test results, provide a brief overview of the selection criteria for the native wildflower species being sown, and explain what we need to do to maximise the likelihood that the sown species will become established.

In addition to all the fun with flowers we will also be undertaking scrub management on the slope below the tower and, depending on time and numbers, removing some young self-seeded sycamores.

Please contact Julia at j.meldrum@gov.je or Jon at jonparkes@nationaltrust.je or phone Julia on 441600 or Jon on 483193 before you go just case anything changes.

The site

We will meet in the car park at the end of Le Mont Mallet at 10:20 for a 10:30 start. Please check the weather forecast and wear suitable clothing.

Jersey phone directory Map 11, MM15. Google maps here

Parking  There is parking at the meeting point.

The task Planting wildflower seeds and shrub management.

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Tools needed Tools will be provided but if you have a pair of gardening gloves, a spade and/or cutting tools (e.g. pruning saw, loppers, secateurs) it would be helpful if you could bring them along with you.

Clothing needed. Bring gardening gloves (though we can supply a pair if you don’t have them), wellies or sturdy boots (it could well be muddy and the vegetation may be wet it and it may be rough underfoot) and common sense clothes to cope with the elements, we go ahead whatever the weather!

Children All are welcome, young or old. Children under 16 must be supervised by a parent or guardian during the task.

Work will finish by 12:30 when we will enjoy the great privilege of sampling Kim’s latest batch of delicious cakes, washed down with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter bird crops feeding more threatened birds every year

photo-by-romano-da-costa-1By Cris Sellarés

The Winter Bird Crops are going from strength to strength looking at the way the birds are rushing to get to them. Results from last winter’s surveys at the crops show an increase in bird numbers of almost 40% in density (birds per hectare), even when the number of fields and area planted did not increase from the previous year. Most encouragingly, the vast majority of birds feeding at the crops were the targeted species: farmland birds such as chaffinch, linnet, reed bunting, meadow pipit, goldfinch and starling.

The winter bird crops are crucial to keep hundreds of birds fed and alive throughout the winter, when there is not much food to be found in the fields or hedges. Many of the species benefiting from them are threatened right across their British and European ranges, and include local birds and migrants who come to spend winter here.

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You can download and read the full report 2015-16 Winter bird crops report here. Here are the highlights:

  • photo-by-romano-da-costa-4Farmland birds are in decline across Europe, the UK and Jersey, with some species having become locally extinct and many others considered threatened. One of main reasons of these declines is lack of food during winter which causes high levels of mortality. The so-called ‘Winter Bird Crops’ provide a source of food at this critical time, increasing the chances of survival of many threatened birds both local and migrants
  • Birds On The Edge works with Jersey’s potato farmers to provide winter bird crops for the longest time possible. A variety of crops are planted with staggered management regimes, ensuring that the crops do not disappear at once when the fields are planted with potatoes. The crops provide seeds and grains of various sizes, energy and nutritional values
  • In 2015 a total of 47 fields were planted to feed farmland birds during the 2015-16 winter. The fields were found at 12 different sites, and, combined, covered a total of 33.3 hectares (163 vergées)
  • The development of the crops and bird activity was monitored throughout the winter. A total of 46,155 records of birds of 54 species were collected over sixteen surveys, of which 40,949 (88.7%) were of target species (endangered farmland birds)
  • Of the ten most abundant species found at the crops, seven were farmland (target) species: chaffinch, linnet, starling, goldfinch, greenfinch, meadow pipit and reed bunting. A total of 14 target species was recorded at the sites. The most successful site had an average of 461 target birds per hectare
  • Net numbers increased by 13,874 birds compared to 2014-15 (54% increase) and by 33,177 compared to 2013-14 (534% increase)
  • The overall density of target birds increased by 39% from the previous winter (2014-15) and by 140% compared to the winter of 2013-14
  • The seed for the bird crops was purchased and provided thanks to the generosity of a private donor. It costs approximately £3,500 to plant the winter bird crops in Jersey
  • This year’s crops, which are already feeding birds in larger numbers than ever recorded, were paid for by the local charity Action For Wildlife and by the States of Jersey’s Countryside Enhancement Scheme
  • Our research proves just invaluable the crops are for these vulnerable species and we believe that continuing this scheme is paramount for their survival. As we begin to plan for next year’s crops with the farmers, Action For Wildlife has stepped up once again and donated £1000 towards the seed for next year’s crops. This will be added to a private donation of £200 we received in the autumn, as we close in our target of £3,500.

Read the full report 2015-16 Winter bird crops report

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Les Minquiers – A Natural History. Part 2

minquiers-30-7-2016-photo-by-hgyoung-27Marine habitats

Intertidal habitats

The intertidal habitat map has been compared with aerial photographs taken in 1944, 1980, 2003 and 2005. This suggests that the intertidal area at Les Minquiers is in good condition and there has been little measurable change in the type, size and location of its habitats. With the exception of some sand movement, the reef’s intertidal ecology seems to have remained stable during the past 70 years.

Unfortunately, not measurable from historical aerial photography is small scale ecological damage that can result from activities such as low water fishing and boating, such as not returning boulders. In 1956 it was reported that ormer fishermen were not returning rocks and that this was killing off under-boulder fauna to such an extent that it was affecting shellfish stocks on the reef. Survey work at Les Minquiers since 2013 suggests that while some ormer fishermen still do not return rocks, this is not happening enough to cause widespread habitat and species destruction.

Low water fishing activities should periodically be quantified to avoid some of the problems that have occurred on the nearby Chausey Islands. Compared with the French coast, pursuits such as raking, digging and ormering are at a low level on Les Minquiers and much that does occur tends to be within the anchorage at Maîtresse Île or on adjacent sandbanks. Raking has the potential to disrupt or destroy stable infaunal communities and is especially problematic in areas of eelgrass but when conducted on a small scale, habitats can recover and be repopulated from nearby areas. Promoting good practice regarding low water fishing will assist with the conservation of key intertidal habitats. Other potential but currently minor problems include the placing of moorings in eelgrass areas, the dumping of fishing gear and the threat from oil or other chemical spillages.

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The intertidal environment at Les Minquiers is diverse and mostly pristine. From Les Minquiers – A Natural History

Subtidal habitats

Assessing the nature and quality of subtidal habitats at Les Minquiers has been problematic and there is much work left to do in this area. Diving, aerial photography and fisheries data all suggest that the seabed from chart datum to around five to ten metres in depth is probably in good condition with little obvious evidence of degradation. An exception to this is an eelgrass area to the south-west of Le Rocher du Sud which, in 2003, showed clear evidence of having been heavily dredged causing considerable damage.

Deeper water areas have not been assessed since the 1970s but modern fisheries data indicate that the seabed to the east, south-east and north-east of the plateau has been regularly fished using mobile gear. The state of these seabed areas has not been ascertained but it is possible that they may have been damaged by commercial fishing and be in a degraded condition and/or affected by the accumulation of the American slipper limpet (Crepidula fornicata).

Some form of seabed survey, possibly by remote camera, is desirable, especially in areas that the PhD study of Retière (1979) records as having had maerl. Non-mobile métiers, such as potting and line fishing, do less harm and, apart from instances of lost gear, are unlikely to cause long-lasting seabed damage.

Rocky subtidal habitats are of less interest to dredgers and trawlers and evidence from divers, and the fisheries data, suggest that there has been little damage to rocky reefs or large areas of exposed bedrock on the seabed. Subtidal rocky habitats contain many delicate species such as sea fans, sponges and anemones and should be conserved whenever possible.

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A sponge on Les Sauvages – a particularly important underwater site to the south-east of Les Minquiers. From Les Minquiers – A Natural History

Marine Species

A general lack of data pre-1992 makes it difficult to discern any population trends for marine species found at Les Minquiers. There is sufficient anecdotal information to suggest that a number of species have either disappeared from the reef or have noticeably declined. This includes the conger eel, sea bass, common octopus, slipper lobster, flat oyster and eelgrass, although their decline is probably related to factors outside of the reef such as regional overfishing, disease and climatic events. A severe decline in the ormer population is related to a combination of historical overfishing and, in 1999, disease. There has been some recovery since the 1990s but the population is at an historical low and further conservation measures may be needed to assure the ormer’s long-term regional future.

The reef has also gained some new species, some of which have migrated up from southern Europe and there are seven invasive species that have arrived from neighbouring coasts. Invasive species can present a real threat to the local marine environment and some, such as wireweed (Sargassum muticum), have permanently changed habitats within Les Minquiers. Fortunately, the Plateau des Minquiers seems to have fewer invasive species than neighbouring coasts although it is possible that the American slipper limpet may be affecting deeper water sediment areas. It is only through international regulation and meaningful biosecurity measures that future arrivals can be minimised in the north-west European area.

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Over 600 marine species are known from Les Minquiers. From Les Minquiers – A Natural History

Biodiversity on Les Minquiers

The table below summarises the number of species recorded from Les Minquiers from three separate periods of time: pre-1950; 1950 to 1999; post-1999. These periods broadly reflect elevated levels of recording that occurred either side of World War II and individual surveys during the 1950s, 1970s, 1990s and at the start of the current century.

It is probable that the number of species recorded on Maîtresse Île is an accurate reflection of the island’s overall biodiversity and that there has been a loss of plant and breeding bird species since the end of World War II. The resident arthropods have probably remained stable and may even have increased with the renovation of the huts from the 1970s onwards. Microscopic animals, such as mites and diatoms, and lichens have only recently been studied.

It is probable that the number of recorded marine species in the table is an underestimate with the total diversity probably being double or treble this total. Further targeted research will produce more records, especially in subtidal areas. Historical records are not good enough to discern whether there has been a decline in most marine species although this it is suspected in some cases.

a-summary-of-biodiversity-on-les-minquiers-for-three-time-periods-pre-1950-1950-1999-post-2000-together-with-the-total-number-of-species-recorded-overall

A summary of biodiversity on Les Minquiers for three time periods: pre-1950; 1950-1999 and post 2000 together with the total number of species recorded overall. From Les Minquiers – A Natural History

Environmental threats, causes and solutions

The information gathered during the course of this project suggests that Maîtresse Île is under considerable environmental pressure. Of particular concern is the issue of soil erosion which presents an immediate threat to the island’s wildlife and infrastructure. Addressing it is primarily a matter of awareness, stakeholder cooperation, management and infrastructure maintenance although there are some factors, such as rising sea levels, that cannot be tackled solely at a local level.

In the marine realm the greatest threat is from the fishing industry and especially the use of mobile gear (such as dredges and trawls) on the seabed which can cause serious and irreparable damage to habitats and species. A review of ecosystem services suggests that Les Minquiers is an area of high biological productivity with habitats that make it an important nursery area for commercial fish and shellfish species. This has been suspected for some time and as early as the 1930s it was suggested that the reef was important to regional fish stocks.

It is probable that conserving the nursery function of Les Minquiers will have a greater long-term economic return for the fishing industry than the short-term rewards gained from damaging its benthic habitats. It is, therefore, important that as much of the reef as possible is designated as a no mobile fishing gear zone but especially the shallow marine habitats on the Plateau des Minquiers most (but not all) of which are at present undamaged.

Some other common solutions include the need for increased management, monitoring and awareness and there are a number of major potential threats (such as climate change, oil slicks and invasive species) that require international cooperation. However, in the short term it is local and regional management that offers the best and most immediate means of conserving the key ecological, infrastructural and cultural attributes of Les Minquiers.

Historically Les Minquiers has been managed via an informal relationship between the States of Jersey, the Crown, hut owners and regional fishing authorities. However, in recent years other organisations and groups have been founded whose remit covers the reef including the Ramsar Management Authority, the National Park and the Maîtresse Île Residents’ Association. Exactly how the reef should best be managed and how this may best be accomplished without becoming intrusive or overbearing to its stakeholders, remains a matter for discussion.

About Les Minquiers Project

The project to study Les Minquiers was begun in 2012 by three members of the Société Jersiaise’s Marine Biology Section. They had been working on Les Écréhous and Paternosters and were aware of the importance and fragility of Jersey’s offshore reefs. They were aware that little was known about Les Minquiers and decided that they would take a look to see what could be done to rectify this.

The initial plan was to just look at the reef’s marine biology (its most obvious natural asset) but it became quickly apparent that almost every aspect of Les Minquiers needed documenting. The team soon expanded to include botanists, ornithologists, entomologists, divers, geologists, archaeologists, meteorologists and all manner of other specialists. Every conceivable thing was studied, from single-celled organisms through to the reef’s complex political and cultural history. In the end the project had nineteen principal contributors plus over 50 others who assisted with fieldwork, data crunching, logistics and archive research.

The projects results have been written up into a book which is available in a limited edition hardback (from Société Jersiaise only here) and a paperback. Any profit from the hardback edition will be used to pay for the project’s cost, most of which has been funded by the participants themselves.

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Le Minquiers – A Natural History

 

December volunteer activity

photo-by-department-of-the-environmentSunday 11th December 2016 – St Peter – 10:30-13.00

Why not take a break from the Christmas shopping this Sunday and join us to learn a new skill (or hone an existing one) and plant some trees!

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

The details

We will be getting together again with Conrad Evans and the team from Jersey Trees for Life to provide a Christmas present for Jersey’s wildlife!  We will add to the organisation’s hedgerow campaign by planting native trees and shrubs around field boundaries to provide habitat corridors for the wildlife of St Peter.

Please contact Julia at j.meldrum@gov.je or Jon at jonparkes@nationaltrust.je or phone Julia on 441600 or Jon on 483193 before you go just case anything changes.

The site

Meet at the Jersey Wanderers car park off La Rue des Sauvalleries, St Peter (south of Jersey Rugby Club). Parking is by kind permission of Jersey Wanderers.

Jersey phone directory map 7, M14. Google maps here

Parking  There is parking at the meeting point.

The task Planting trees and shrubs.

Tools needed As always, we can supply some tools, but please bring your own if you have them. We are very limited on the number of spades we have available so bring yours along if you have one (please note that trowels, shovels, and garden forks are not suitable for this task).

Clothing needed Bring gardening gloves (though we can supply a pair if you don’t have them), wellies or sturdy boots, (it could well be muddy and the vegetation may be wet it and it may be rough underfoot) and common sense clothes to cope with the elements, we go ahead whatever the weather!

Children All are welcome, young or old. Children under 16 must be supervised by a parent or guardian during the task.

Work will be finished by 13.00. And, our very own Christmas angel Kim will supply hot drinks and her legendary homemade cakes at the end of the task.

Hope to see you there!

Les Minquiers – A Natural History. Part 1

les-minquiers-photo-by-mick-drydenles-minquiers-bookFollowing publication of the landmark book Les Minquiers – A Natural History Birds On The Edge asked one of the authors, Paul Chambers, to discuss the book and these remarkable but poorly known islands.

Situated just 12 miles south of St Helier, the tangle of rocks, reefs and sandbanks that form Les Minquiers is a world entirely removed from the bustle and traffic of Jersey life.

At 300 km2 the Minquiers’ plateau is larger than most British cities and yet at high tide only 0.002 km2 remains above the sea. Six hours later (and drop in sea level of up to 13 metres) and the area of exposed seashore expands by some 10,000 per cent to 20 km2. The reef holds around 20,000 individual rocks the oldest of which are at least 640 million years old. The one vegetated island, Maîtresse Île, has a rich prehistoric archaeology which suggests it has been regularly used by humans over the past 4,500 years.

This wonder of the natural world is sat on Jersey’s doorstep and yet until recently very little was known about the history or natural history of Les Minquiers. ‘There is perhaps no area of comparable extent in the British Isles about which so little is known,’ wrote the celebrated geologist Dr Arthur Mourant in 1977. This remained true until 2012 when a small team from Jersey’s Société Jersiaise set out to document the reef’s marine and terrestrial biology.

Following the recent publication of the team’s landmark book on the history and natural history of Les Minquiers (see book here) we are pleased to present an overview of the current ecological health of Les Minquiers. This has been adapted from the ‘Summary and Conclusions’ chapter in the book.

Introduction

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Les Minquiers. July 2016. Photo by Glyn Young

In 1998 the Jersey in the New Millennium government consultation document stated that Les Écréhous and Les Minquiers ‘may very well warrant SSI [Site of Special Interest] designation and even international recognition but there is an urgent need to recognise their unique character and the ecology/landscape/leisure use linkages in a “national park” style designation akin to that given to Les Mielles. The increase in leisure boating activity and the number of marinas on the adjacent French coast will subject these reefs to increasing people pressure with obvious knock-on ecological impacts’.

Since this was written all of Jersey’s offshore reefs have been designated as Ramsar (Wetlands of International Importance) areas and the terrestrial areas included within the Jersey National Park. Maîtresse Île is scheduled to become a Site of Special Interest (SSI) and has been subject to various management plans, laws, policies and multilateral environmental agreements.

This has drawn attention to the importance of the offshore reefs and yet, until recently, there remained a general lack of appreciation of their histories and natural histories, and an absence of coordinated study, management and monitoring. It was this knowledge gap that inspired a small team of amateur and professional naturalists to spend four years studying all aspects of Les Minquiers, from its history, archaeology and geology to its animal and plant life. Their results are published in the book, already described as ‘an achievement on a global scale’ by The Sunday Times environment correspondent (and author of End of the Line) Charles Clover.

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Les Minquiers. April 2011. Photo by Glyn Young

Aside from providing a comprehensive overview of every aspect of Les Minquiers, the project’s results provide much of the basic information that is needed by local, national and perhaps international authorities to make decisions regarding the reef’s present-day management, as well as to develop strategies to safeguard its future.

Presented below is a summary of those results and conclusions that most concern the general environmental and ecological health of Les Minquiers, especially those which might have some relevance to the reef’s future management.

These should not be taken as an exhaustive summary of all the project’s results as much other information is provided in the book and a reading of the relevant chapters is recommended. Regardless of how the information derived from this project is used in the future, the authors would like to think that their work does fulfil the ‘urgent need to recognise the unique character’ of Les Minquiers, as requested by the States of Jersey in 1998.

A summary of physical and environmental change

Presented below is a summary of key facts and conclusions relating to the current and historical  environmental status of Les Minquiers. This includes aspects of the reef’s archaeology and oceanography but does not include summaries of information relating to the human and geological history of the reef unless it touches on ecological and environmental matters.

Physical Geography, Oceanography and Sedimentology

The general topography of Les Minquiers has probably changed little since the post-glacial sea level stabilised around 2,000 to 4,000 years ago. Much of the plateau is made of hard igneous rock about ten per cent of which is exposed at low water. There has been little opportunity for human activity to destroy or alter the bedrock and so many parts of the reef will present the same profile now as they did when the first Bronze Age hunters travelled to the reef in search of seals.

The main exception to this is Maîtresse Île and several nearby rocks whose physical profile has changed considerably following quarrying in the early nineteenth century. The removal of rock from the north-west and south-east of the island may have accelerated soil erosion by allowing breaking waves to access the area west of the huts. It is probable that some soil erosion had occurred prior to this but quarrying may have accelerated the process.

A second noticeable change in topography concerns the reef’s many sandbanks which build up against rocks or form in the lee of obstacles within tidal currents. An obvious example is the large sandbank known as Le Gris Banc which, since the time of the first hydrographic surveys, has moved steadily eastwards into an adjacent channel. This movement accelerated in the 1990s entirely closing what was once a navigable gap of around 300 metres. Other less strategic sandbanks, such as Le Banc du Turbot, may also have changed shape in recent decades. Although visually remarkable and a nuisance to boaters and chart makers, sandbank movement is probably part of a natural cycle of accumulation and erosion within the reef.

le-gris-banc-a-sandbank-at-les-minquiers-which-has-moved-300-metres-during-the-past-decade

Le Gris Banc a sandbank at Les Minquiers which has moved 300 metres during the past decade. From Les Minquiers – A Natural History

Maîtresse Île

The small terrestrial area of Maîtresse Île has probably seen the greatest change of any place on Les Minquiers. Prior to the nineteenth century Maîtresse Île was a remote, largely untouched, vegetated island with no freshwater which was irregularly visited by fishermen. Then came the quarrymen and more organised fishing from La Rocque Harbour so that by the mid-nineteenth century around 18 stone buildings had been built which were permanently inhabited during the spring and summer months. It is probable that the fishermen managed the island’s vegetation (especially tree mallow) creating habitats for specialist coastal plants such as grasses. Throughout this time soil erosion continued to operate on the western and north-eastern edges of the island.

Maitresse Ile. April 2011. Photo by Glyn Young

Plant life

Following World War II the huts were abandoned, allowing plants and birds to take over. Renovation of the derelict buildings began in the 1970s and, by the 1980s, had led to a new phase of development and occupation by Jersey families. In 2016 just two hut sites remain undeveloped. As huts have been renovated and visitor numbers have increased, so the biology and ecology of Maîtresse Île has gradually changed. This was accelerated by the application of weed killer across the island in 1973 which removed an estimated 99% of all plant life. Erosion was enhanced immediately following this event leading to considerable soil loss.

Tree mallow (with mist net). April 2011. Photo by Glyn Young

Over the past century a total of 26 plant species have at some point been recorded from Maîtresse Île. The most species observed during an individual survey was 16 in 1973, immediately after the weed killer incident when, ironically, opportunistic weeds temporarily appeared. Currently there are eight known species with those plants that have disappeared during the past century mostly being grasses and short species such as thrift. Some of these (including thrift) may have been permanently removed by the weed killer incident while others were possibly crowded out by the tree mallow which currently dominates the island.

It is possible that tree mallow is naturally pervasive on Maîtresse Île and that, left to its own devices, this is the species that will proliferate and dominate. Other historically recorded species, such as grasses and thrift, may have been present only as long as the fishermen were resident and regularly clearing the tree mallow.

Aside from aesthetics, the most important roles of vegetation are to prevent soil erosion and provide food and shelter for wildlife. This is especially true for the island’s bird life with almost all the 92 recorded breeding and migratory species being dependent on the presence of tree mallow.

The destruction of vegetation exposes soil to the effects of waves, wind and rain, causing it to erode rapidly. Since 1928 Maîtresse Île has lost an estimated 50 per cent of its soil cover and it is soil erosion, above all else, that presents the greatest environmental threat to the island’s ecology. Soil provides an anchor for vegetation which is in turn needed by birds and invertebrate animals. Soil also supports hut foundations and contains archaeological material.

Although the issue of soil erosion has been raised several times by archaeologists, little has been done to address it. This should form a central part of any future management plans for Maîtresse Île, especially with regard to the way in which visitors and residents use the island. Without soil, Maîtresse Île will lose its wildlife, its infrastructure and its archaeology. Without soil, the central part of the island will be around a metre lower in height which will permit storm waves to sweep up from the south and east and cross the spine of the island.

Only the high points around the flagpole, Le Gabé and to the west of the toilet will be significantly above the high water mark. In such circumstances the huts and any terrestrial species are unlikely to survive, leaving Maîtresse Île a largely barren rock that, like La Grande Maison, would support only nesting birds, maritime algae and some lichens.

Nesting birds

Another notable biological change to have occurred in recent decades is in the use of Maîtresse Île by nesting birds. The discovery of seabird bones from the Bronze Age suggests that the island has been used as a nesting place for thousands of years. It is unlikely that seabirds would have nested successfully when fishermen were in residence as the nests would probably have been raided or scattered. After World War II birds did nest successfully as the ruined huts provided shelter for shags, gulls and other seabirds. Since renovation of the huts began in the 1970s, there has been a decrease in the number of species nesting so that currently it is only gull species which nest in any number on the rocky areas to the west and north of the huts although, in July and August 2015, a large number of Terns nested on the north of the island for the first time in living memory.

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Les Maisons. Photo by Mick Dryden

Disturbance

In recent years weather, inadvertent disturbance and deliberate damage to nests has led to some poor breeding seasons on Maîtresse Île. For example, in 2014 all the gulls’ nests were deliberately destroyed early in the season leading to a disastrous breeding year for the birds. Additional monitoring of when, where and which species are nesting on the island might allow for a more targeted management during the nesting season. A second nesting site exists around the base of the beacon at La Grande Maison which seems to receive little human interference.

There have been many other events and incidents that have affected the ecology of Maîtresse Île in some way. Most of these result from individual acts of ignorance, such as clearing vegetation for camping or picnics, placing heavy machinery on the island and lighting barbecues on bare soil or next to huts. Other actions derive from ignorance or wanton destruction of property and the dumping of litter and chemicals are more deliberate acts.

An increased awareness of the fragility of Maîtresse Île’s ecology amongst visitors and residents will go some way to resolving these problems. Signs, websites and literature (such as posters and leaflets at marinas) should promote a greater understanding of Maîtresse Île and its ecology. There have also been issues around repairs and renovations on the island and it is recommended that future projects (whether by Jersey’s authorities or individuals) are made to adhere to tight management plans which avoid the risk of soil erosion, habitat destruction and pollution.

Climate change

One final and probably unavoidable issue facing Maîtresse Île is that of climate change and rising sea levels. Many different models and claims are made about the cause and visible effects of climate change but evidence does suggest that the global climate is undergoing a warming phase and that the sea level is rising. For low-lying islands and reefs this is not good news, as even small sea level rises risk increased erosion and marine inundation. This may be compounded by a predicted increase in the number and severity of storm surges as the warmer seas create and empower low pressure systems.

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Maitresse Ile. April 2011. Photo by Glyn Young

Between October 2013 and March 2014 the coast of Europe was hit by a series of spectacular storms that rolled in off the Atlantic swamping and damaging coastlines along the English Channel. On Maîtresse Île these storms removed soil from the west of the island, damaged two of the seawalls and undermined the concrete area at the top of the slipway. Similarly, a storm surge in February 2008 damaged a wall and shifted large boulders across the slipway. As the sea level rises, so the destructive potential of waves will move higher up the island placing pressure on the sea defences and further increase the action of soil erosion. This issue is being addressed for Jersey’s sea defences and needs to be addressed for Maîtresse Île too.

The results from this project suggest that Maîtresse Île is facing several immediate threats, the most serious of which are issues relating to soil erosion, habitat/species loss and storm damage. These, and other threats, are best addressed through coherent management and monitoring of the island, investment in infrastructure maintenance, the cooperation of its principal users and raising awareness for visitors and potential visitors.

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Maitresse Ile at Les Minquiers: soil erosion means it gets smaller every year. Les Minquiers – A Natural History