Chough report: January 2018

Flieur (grey over blue leg rings) a four year old female chough. Photo by Elin Cunningham

by Liz Corry

It was a wet and windy start to 2018 with storms Eleanor, Fionn, David, and Georgina all battering Jersey within a span of 24 days. Not surprisingly then, there is little to report in terms of chough antics. Even less in the way of photos since cameras were kept locked away in the dry.

Storm damage

Wind speeds, rarely falling below F8 throughout January, took their toll on the aviary. The poly-tunnel netting suffered the most. Constant rubbing along the metal poles wore down the threads and cable ties snapped. In some areas joins in the netting opened up or came away from the wooden frame and overnight a large split in the middle of the poly-tunnel appeared. Obviously reducing the effectiveness of trapping birds in the aviary if we had a need to do so. An ostrich could escape from that, never mind a chough!

Netting ripped open and posts broken as storm after storm pounded the aviary. Photo by Liz Corry.

Easily rectified by sewing and patching with extra netting, the tricky part was finding a day when weather conditions permitted use of a ladder for the harder to reach areas. Other damage has or will take longer to repair. Again this is because we are reliant on weather conditions favouring truck access to the site to take new timber and scaffolding.

As exemplified by this little incident on the one day it didn’t rain…

Toby from Ronez Quarry answered the chough SOS after the student’s 4WD failed miserably. Photo by Elin Cunningham.

Yes we did have 4WD on. No it obviously wasn’t working and we are eternally grateful to staff at Ronez Quarry.

My aviary and other animals

The aviary still functions as a supplemental feed station and roost site. As mentioned in past monthlies it is favoured by other wildlife. We probably have the complete compliment of Jersey’s small mammals visiting the aviary. This has pros and cons depending on your viewpoint. The owls and kestrels are very much in the ‘pro’ camp.

One afternoon our volunteer was shocked to find an owl flying around inside the aviary. As were the choughs! Normally we just find pellets. Earlier this month we thought we had stumbled upon a lost Damien Hirst masterpiece. Turns out it was just the neatly displayed insides of a rat.

We have also managed to film the culprit responsible for the defecation and destruction found in the keeper porch. Measures are underway to deter this behaviour.

We are experiencing problems using camera traps. A lot of the time they failed to even record chough activity. Fingers crossed we get more footage of the owl(s) if it or they return.

Camera trap photo taken at dawn of the choughs who chose to roost at the aviary.

Sign of the times

Despite the wind and rain the chough pairings are still clear to see. We are not far away from the time of year that the pairs start nesting. We are keeping a close eye on the existing pairs as well as the blossoming ones. Our two trios from last year will or have changed.

The death of Egg has forced Dusty to consider whether he becomes closer with Chickay or ditches her and starts afresh. Our young trio of Pyrrho and two wild siblings remains a close friendship. Pyrrho wants more. Will the young male feel the same this year now he is a year older with his hormones beginning to kick in?

Pyrrho (right) with her young male. Photo by Elin Cunningham

Who ewe looking at?

Apologies, but how else to entitle this section? The sheep are still confined to the field adjacent to the aviary. They started to take a keen interest in the grass surrounding the aviary but weren’t invited in! They have now been partitioned off to the next field. The choughs, however, make the most of the sheep’s field and the soil, dung, and hay there teeming with invertebrates.

The grass IS greener. Photo by Liz Corry.

The field gates are currently padlocked if you are to go and visit. Please be respectful of the sheep whilst they are up there: they are very friendly, but spook easily which tends to result in Usain Bolt sprints in all directions.

Advances in aviary design

Finally this month we have to thank John Corder, a follower of the monthly report, who answered a plea in December’s report. I had asked if anyone had suggestions for a more efficient way of building and operating release hatches. John linked us to a presentation made at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums 2016 conference describing the use of remote bird traps. These homemade traps incorporate remote central-locking systems used in cars and run off a 12v battery. A quick visit to eBay and a local hardware store soon had me set up to finally put my A-level in Technology to good use. The kit cost around £30. All that is needed now is to find a way of making it weather-proof and workable at Sorel. We hope to test this out in our zoo aviary first. Many thanks to John once again.

Efficient release hatches? We think not! Photo by Elin Cunningham

February volunteer activity

Hedge planting. Photo courtesy of Department of the Environment

Sunday 11th February 2018 – Westlands Farm, Route de Franfief, St Brelade – 10:30-13.00

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

The details The task this month focuses on planting native trees and hedging on field boundaries to create wildlife corridors, generally connecting existing areas of hedge and woodland habitat. The planting offsets losses caused Dutch Elm Disease, winter storms, the general over-maturity of our existing habitat and that lost to development and farming practices.

Three flagship mammal species are mentored and information and guidance is received form those groups who care for and monitor red squirrels, hedgehogs and bats. This is the 3rd or a 3-year programme planting for various bat species, linking up the ponds and wet meadows of Pont du Val and Le Parc du Pont Marquet.

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  Le Parc du Pont Marquet, St Brelade.

Parking  Meet at Westlands Farm, Route de Franfief, St Brelade. Look out for the Jersey Trees for Life banners and roadside stall selling logs and produce at the entrance to the property, turn into the entrance and parking will be at the end of the long concrete drive.

(Jersey phone directory Map 7, L15) Google maps here

The task Cutting back willows and other vegetation and dead hedging along the stream.

We will leave the carpark at 10:20 for a 10:30 start and with around 500 trees to plant we will start at 10:30 prompt and plan to work until about 12:30.

Tools needed Please bring your own spade if you have one (note garden forks and trowels are not suitable for this task), we have some spades but not enough for all.

Clothing needed. It may be cold and, being Jersey, it may be wet so please dress sensibly and wellies may be absolutely essential!

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

We’ll work until 12.30 when we will we will get stuck in to a piece of Kim’s gorgeous home-made cake and a hot drink.

See you there!

 

Once again it’s time to count the birds in the garden

Blue tit (2). Photo by Mick Dryden

Jersey’s Great Garden Birdwatch this weekend – 3rd and 4th February 2017

Nothing predicts the coming spring like the announcement of the annual Action for Wildlife, Birds On The Edge and Jersey Evening Post Great Garden Birdwatch. Of course, nothing prepares us for a weekend of atrocious weather more than the announcement of the Great Garden Birdwatch! Mind you, the weather throughout January was so awful that things couldn’t be any worse. Surely? This year we’re asking everyone to count the birds in their garden on either Saturday 3rd of February or the following day, Sunday 4th of February.

Action for Wildlife

JEP logo

Whatever the weather the birds will be there in the garden and they’ll need us. We’ve seen some of our favourites declining over recent years. Blue tits, greenfinches and starlings are now very rare visitors. Even house sparrows aren’t the familiar sight in every garden that they once were. Notes on previous years surveys have detailed the fate of different bird populations in Jersey gardens so please have a look at 2016 and 2017.

Of course, as we’ve shown in the past, some birds do buck the trend and are doing ok. Our winter blackcap population, different from the birds here in summer and pretty well absent from the countryside over winter, seem to love it here. And wood pigeons aren’t showing signs of deserting us any day soon.

Please, this year as before, take a few minutes to watch the birds in your garden on the Saturday or the Sunday and fill out the simple form here and email it in to us at Birds On The Edge. The more completed surveys the better and the stronger the data becomes in showing us all the state of our favourite birds and the importance of our gardens in safeguarding them.

Robin (5). Photo by Mick Dryden

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 Tuesday January 30th 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.

And remember, for one weekend a year red squirrels can consider themselves birds!

Download the record form here

Blinded by the light: how light pollution lures birds into urban areas during autumn migration

Toronto skyline at night

From Rare Bird Alert

On their autumn migration south in the Northern Hemisphere, many birds are being lured by artificial light pollution into urban areas that may be an ecological trap, according to new research using weather surveillance radars from the northeastern United States over a seven-year period to map the distributions of migratory birds during their autumn stopovers.

Since most of the birds that migrate in the US are nocturnal and leave their stopover sites at night, the research group took snapshots of the birds as they departed.

Red-winged blackbird. Photo by Mick Dryden

“Shortly after sunset, at around civil twilight, they all take off in these well-synchronized flights that show up as a sudden bloom of reflectivity on the radar,” University of Delaware’s Jeff Buler said. “We take a snapshot of that, which allows us to map out where they were on the ground and at what densities. It basically gives us a picture of their distributions on the ground.”

The researchers were interested in seeing what factors shape the birds’ distributions and why they occur in certain areas.

“We think artificial light might be a mechanism of attraction because we know at a very small scale, birds are attracted to light,” Buler said. “Much like insects are drawn to a streetlight at night, birds are also drawn to places like lighthouses. Especially when visibility is poor, you can get these big fall-outs at lighthouses and sports complexes. Stadiums will have birds land in the stadium if it’s foggy at night and the lights are on.”

One hazard for birds attracted to city lights is death from flying into high buildings. Buler said that some cities such as Toronto have even gone so far as to institute ‘Lights Out’ programmes, turning off the lights in tall buildings to deter birds from colliding with them.

Earth's_City_Lights_by_DMSP,_1994-1995_(large)

Sky Glow

The research team analysed the distributions of the birds in proximity to the brightest areas in the northeast such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

“These are super-bright, large metropolitan areas,” Buler said. “We found an increasing density of birds the closer you get to these cities. The effect goes out about 200 kilometres [about 125 miles]. We estimate that these flying birds can see a city on the horizon up to several hundred kilometres away. Essentially, there is no place in the northeastern United States where they can’t see the sky glow of a city.”

Parks and yards

The researchers also found that suburban areas, such as people’s backyards and city parks, such as Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, harbour some of the highest densities of birds in the northeast.

“Fairmount Park has higher densities of birds than at Cape May, New Jersey, which is where birders typically go to see birds concentrating during migration,” Buler said.

When they do get lured into cities, the birds seek out suitable habitat, which can cause concerns from a conservation standpoint as lots of birds pack into a small area with limited resources and higher mortality risks.

“One of the things we point out in this research is that there might be negative consequences for birds being drawn to urban cities. We know there’s risk of collision with buildings, collision with vehicles, and getting eaten by cats, which are a major predator,” Buler said.

“Domestic cats could be the largest anthropogenic source of mortality for birds. If birds are being drawn into these heavily developed areas, it may be increasing their risk of mortality from anthropogenic sources and it may also be that the resources in those habitats are going to be depleted much faster because of competition with other birds.”

Another concern: light pollution created in these cities has been increasing in recent years with the advent of LED lights, which are much brighter than the incandescent lights they replaced.

“The transition of street lighting from incandescent to LED continues to increase the amount of light pollution,” Buler said. “If you think about it from an evolutionary sense, for all wildlife really, mammals and insects and birds, they’ve only been exposed to this light pollution for less than 200 years. They’re still adapting to the light.”

Access the paper Artificial light at night confounds broad-scale habitat use by migrating birds here

Chough report: December 2017

by Liz Corry

As the year drew to a close and daylight hours dwindled to their annual low, the choughs spent more and more time at Sorel close to their roost sites.

Chough movements in December

There was one intriguing public report at the start of December suggesting a new roost site. Farm workers at West Point Farm, St Ouen, had been seeing a pair of choughs in their barns around 7am each morning. At that time of year sunrise occurs around 7.40am. Was the pair roosting in the barns or being ‘the early bird that catches the worm’ and leaving Sorel before everyone else to find food out west?

Choughs leaving the feed site at Sorel. Photo by Liz Corry.

The day of the report, and each day since, there have been 35 choughs at Sorel for the feed. The sun sets not long after with a dozen or so choughs staying at the aviary and the rest heading east, presumably to the quarry.

Taking in the last rays of a December day. Photo by Liz Corry.

Another reason to stay close to Sorel is the supplemetal feed. Now that winter has set in the availability of wild food is low and the need for calories high. December has not been particularly cold – in fact there have been a few balmy days where shorts were an option (for keeper not bird).

An unusually warm day in December enjoyed by the choughs. Photo by Liz Corry.

However, our tiny island has taken a constant battering over the past weeks with gale force winds of 40 to 60 mph. It is bad enough walking or driving in it. Imagine being a 300g bird trying to fly or trying to stay grounded whilst searching for food in the soil.

24 hours later! (note the choughs on the roof) Photo by Liz Corry.

Apart from a demand for more food the choughs have on the whole faired ok so far with the bad weather. They are making the most of the sheep being confined to the aviary field. It is tupping season with one lucky ram confined to two fields with a flock of ewes. Lots of dung with maybe the odd tasty insect morsel inside.

One lucky ram confined to the aviary field at Sorel for tupping season. Photo by Liz Corry.

The choughs have been foraging in amongst the sheep confined to the field adjacent to the aviary. Photo by Liz Corry.

Syngamus strikes again

There have been two cases of syngamus infection this month. Luckily I was able to trap the birds, Lee and Duke, within a couple of days of symptoms showing. They evaded capture on the first day of trying, partly due to the hatches not budging when released (if anyone can come up with a better release hatch design I will pay you! albeit in chocolate coins). The second day their hunger in the increasingly cold wet weather spurred on their motivation for staying inside the aviary and the hatches closed. Much to the relief of the vet on call over Christmas as it was the 23rd December.

Never easy trying to trap choughs who refuse to go inside. Photo by Liz Corry.

Whilst Lee had been our major cause for concern due to gaping and repeated sneezing, it was Duke who sounded the most congested once we had him in the hand. He also had a lot of mucus around his nares which we rarely see.

Duke presented with mucus coming from his nares as a result of infection. Photo by Liz Corry.

Once they had received their wormer injection they were released and left to feed on the pellet and insects at the aviary. Remarkably there have been no observations of sneezing since that day. However, do bear in mind the gales/fog/heavy rain/sleet (often in the same day) have meant that there is little incentive to hang around at Sorel observing birds.

We have tried. Body weights have been obtained for several of the birds. Not consistently to show any trends, but enough to know the choughs getting on the scales are not underweight. These of course will be the more confident individuals and/or ones that have low parasite loads. We have a new type of scale that the birds will use. A lot cheaper than the flat Kern scales (£20 versus £150).

Prototype weighing station using digital kitchen scales. Photo by Liz Corry.

They are not intended as outdoor scales so I have had a few attempts at weather-proofing. The current one needs improving as the birds are unsure. Once they have approved the design plans we can make several weighing stations to place around the aviary ensuring we cater to all of the choughs.

Gianna’s dilemma

Towards the end of November keepers at the zoo started to notice Gianna our foster mum having issues. She was crash landing when flying. Gianna is tame and she lets keepers get extremely close. She lets me open her bill to check for infections or blockages if needed. It was easy to see that the source of Gianna’s mobility problems was her eyes.

Gianna’s left eye was starting to show signs of cataract. Furthermore, there was no reaction in her right eye. She was taken to the Vet Department for further examination. Photos were sent to a UK specialist who confirmed she had cataracts in both eyes.

Jess Maxwell with Head Vet Andrew Routh examining Gianna’s eyes. Photo by Bea Detnon.

Since the initial assessment there has been a noticably downturn in her ability to move around. Understandably as her vision deteriorates her confidence in everyday things like hopping from rock to rock has decreased. She has been moved to an off-show aviary close to the Vet Department so she can receive the best attention from keepers.

Cataract forming in Gianna’s left eye at the start of December. Photo by Liz Corry.

The cataract in Gianna’s left eye by the end of December. Photo by Bea Detnon.

Despite everyone’s love for Gianna we have to accept that her future is murky. There is the option of an operation to remove the cataracts. As you can imagine this is very specialised, expensive, and relies on the individual being strong enough to undergo the operation. For those of you interested in avian ophthalmology click here. If the operation option is not feasible her quality of life will then need to be carefully considered.

Season’s greetings

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From all of us at chough HQ we hope you enjoyed your Christmas holidays and wish you all the best for 2018. Thank you for your continued support.

January volunteer activity

Tesson Mill. Photo courtesy of National Trust for Jersey

Sunday 14th January 2018 – Tesson Mill, St Peter’s Valley – 10:30-13.00

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

Happy New Year!

The details Originally we had hoped the January task would be planting a new woodland on a former agricultural field owned by the National Trust in St Peter’s Valley. Unfortunately, due to still being in the planning stages of the project, we are unable to commence with this task at the present time.

So instead, we will be carrying out some well needed woodland management at a nearby location. This will include sycamore and ivy control, hazel coppicing, and digging up some invasive garden species to help native plants take over and flourish.

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 Tesson Mill end of the woodland in St Peter’s Valley.

Parking  The meeting point will be at the top of the slope at the Tesson Mill end of the woodland in St Peter’s Valley. There is parking at the Mill Pond near the Vic in the Valley Pub and Quetivel Mill. There will also be some space for those of you with 4x4s on the slope at Tesson Mill and hopefully the land opposite (Please note that these spaces will be limited).

Jersey phone directory Map 14, R14) Google map here

We will leave the carpark at 10:20 for a 10:30 start and plan to work until about 12:30.

The task Woodland management

Tools needed The Trust will provide gloves and tools for the job, but if you would like to bring your own digging and cutting equipment e.g. handsaws and grab/pick-axes, you are very welcome.

Clothing needed. It might be wet here so wellies could be essential!.

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

We’ll work until 12.30 when we will have a hot drink and a slice (or 2, if we can get away with it) of Kim’s yummy home-made cake!

The National Trust Rangers are looking forward to seeing you all there!

Study pinpoints Arctic shorebird decline and it could be our fault!

Dunlin (2). Photo by Mick DrydenFrom Rare Bird Alert

A new study addresses concerns over the many Arctic shorebird populations in precipitous decline. Evident from the study is that monitoring and protection of habitat where the birds breed, winter, and stopover is critical to their survival and to that of a global migration spectacle.

To understand why arctic shorebirds are declining and the role humans may be playing, Dr. Rebecca Bentzen of the WCS Arctic Beringia Program and her colleagues set out to quantify adult bird survival. The scientists collected and combined data across nine breeding sites in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic in 2010–2014, engaging in unprecedented levels of collaboration as part of the Arctic Shorebird Demographic Network.

Sites included the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) and the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Six species of shorebirds were represented in the study – American golden plover, dunlin, semipalmated sandpiper, western sandpiper, red-necked phalarope, and grey phalarope.

Red-necked phalarope. Photo by Mick Dryden

Testing how ecological and human-related variables affected the adult annual survival of the birds, the scientists observed few breeding ground impacts, suggesting that shorebird declines are not currently driven by conditions experienced on the Arctic breeding grounds.

“In a positive sense, our estimates for adult survival were substantially higher than previously published across five of the six species,” said Bentzen. “This is good news; we seem to be doing the right thing in the Arctic as far as conserving these birds.”

This could change, however, with a warming and more variable climate, and oil extraction in environmentally sensitive areas such as ANWR’s coastal plain or around Teshekpuk Lake in the National Petroleum Reserve.

In addition, the study found that the survival of five species of shorebirds that migrate from breeding sites in the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic to wintering areas farther south in the Americas is robust, presumably due to favourable conditions in the nesting areas along that flyway. Meanwhile, dunlin — a shorebird species that migrates to wintering areas in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway on the west side of the Pacific have poorer adult survival.

Jersey January shorebird counts 1987-2017

Are declines in Arctic shorebird counts happening in places like Jersey?

The authors surmise that loss of habitat at migratory stopovers or overwintering sites on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway are responsible for driving poorer adult survival rates and should be a focus of future conservation efforts.

Bentzen notes that the results should focus attention on habitat needs in the East Asian region. In addition, breeding grounds should be carefully monitored and protected as climate impacts and potentially development encroachment increases in and around these critical Arctic breeding habitats.

Download the paper Environmental and ecological conditions at Arctic breeding sites have limited effects on true survival rates of adult shorebirds here

State of the UK’s Birds 2017

State of the UK's Birds 2017Just published, the latest State of the UK’s Birds Report highlights how our birds are doing. Some of our summer migrants are arriving earlier, the distributions of others are moving north and some are just beginning to colonise. The report is only possible due to the efforts of volunteers who take part in BTO surveys including those throughout the Channel Islands.

Headlines

  • Climate change will provide opportunities for some species, while others will be more vulnerable
  • Birds in the UK are showing changes in abundance and distribution, predominantly moving northwards, in a way that is consistent with a changing climate
  • Migratory birds are arriving earlier and egg-laying dates have advanced such that swallows, for example, are arriving in the UK 15 days earlier, and breeding 11 days earlier, than they did in the 1960s
  • A large number of bird species are likely to have opportunities for colonisation and range expansion in the UK under projected climate change. Potential colonists include a number of wetland species such as little bittern and night heron. A considerable list of southerly-distributed species have already shown substantial increases in recent years, including garganey, quail and little egret

Garganey pair. Photo by Mick Dryden

  • Climate change will increase the pressures on species already in decline. A number of our declining rare breeding birds, including dotterel, whimbrel, common scoter and Slavonian grebe, are likely to be at a higher risk of extinction in the UK, based on projections of how climate will become less suitable for them

Slavonian (horned) grebe. Photo by Mick Dryden

  • The UK’s kittiwake population has declined by 70% since 1986 because of falling breeding success and adult survival. Climate change has reduced the availability of the sandeels they rely upon in the breeding season. Other species that feed largely on sandeels, such as Arctic skua, Arctic tern and puffin, are at high risk of climate-related decline
  • National surveys provided updated population estimates for capercaillie and hen harrier and revealed declines for both species
  • In the UK Overseas Territories, there are positive signs of recovery for four endemic land birds on Henderson Island and updates on a successful translocation project for the cahow.

Download the full report State of the UK’s Birds 2017 here

Kittiwake. Photo by Mick Dryden (3)

Citizen scientists helping tackle puffin decline

Puffin by Romano da CostaFrom Rare Bird Alert

The RSPB’s Project Puffin has taken the first steps in solving the mystery of why some puffin colonies in the UK are in dramatic decline after scientists analysed more than 1400 photos sent in by the public, helping them to build a better picture of what these seabirds are feeding their chicks.

UK coastlines have come alive each spring with the sight, sound and smell of puffins nesting and raising their young, known as pufflings. With their bright orange bills and distinctive eye markings people from around the world visit puffin hotspots in the UK and Ireland to photograph the bustling colonies. However, in recent years puffin numbers have plummeted at some colonies, and experts estimate that without help more than half the global puffin population will disappear within the next forty years.

In the summer RSPB scientists set out to understand more about the differing fortunes of puffins around our coasts. The project aimed to capture a snapshot of what puffins are feeding their young at as many colonies as possible, as it is thought their food supply has been negatively impacted by warming seas and shifting ocean currents. By enlisting the help of the public, also known as the ‘Puffarazzi’, 1,402 photos of puffins bringing food to their chicks were sent to the team.

Atlantic puffin. Photo by Mick Dryden

The photos have helped scientists identify areas where puffins are struggling to find the large, nutritious fish needed to support their chicks. Early results suggest that the diet of puffins vary significantly around the UK – in the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland, where serious puffin declines have been seen, puffins appear to be consistently finding smaller prey compared to most other colonies.

Traditionally puffins feed on a mixture of fish, but with nutritious sandeels making up a high proportion of their diet. The photos from puffin colonies in northwest Scotland show that sandeels are making up about half of their diet compared to the two-thirds at colonies in southern Scotland, northern England and Wales.

Ellie Owen, RSPB Conservation Scientist leading the Project Puffin team, said: “puffins colourful bills and unique eye markings make them a favourite bird to photograph. The huge response to our appeal for photos has been incredible, with more than a thousand submitted. It’s taken the team of staff and volunteers more than three months to go through them all.

“For a young puffin waiting in its burrow, its life hangs on whether its parents return with enough food. An abundant supply of large, nutritious fish such as sandeels, sprats and herrings is key to healthy colonies. The public response means we’re getting data on a scale that we’ve never been able to collect before; showing what puffins are managing to find to feed their chicks around our coastline. The next stage of the project is to look more closely at the diet of puffins compared to their breeding success to pin down what part diet plays in the decline of some puffins.”

From May to August, 602 people joined the Puffarazzi, gathering 1402 photos of Puffins taking food to their chicks. Pictures came from almost 40 colonies around the UK, including those on the Farne Islands, Skomer and the Isle of May. The project is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. To see more of the pictures and to learn about the RSPB’s Project Puffin, visit their website here

December volunteer activity

Managed woodland at Grouville Marsh. Photo courtesy of States of Jersey

Sunday 10th December 2017 – Grouville Marsh, Grouville – 10:30-13.00

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

Why not take a break from Christmas shopping (unless like me you haven’t started yet!) and join the JCV on Sunday 10th December 2017

The details Sangan Island Conservation has asked for our help to cut down willow encroaching into the meadow at Grouville Marsh SSI and build a dead hedge along the stream edge.

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  Grouville Marsh SSI

Parking  Meet at Longbeach carpark, Grouville. From here it is a five minute walk to the work area. Jersey phone directory Map 11, KK16; Google maps here

We will leave the carpark at 10:20 for a 10:30 start and plan to work until about 12:30.

The task Cutting back willows and other vegetation and dead hedging along the stream bank.

Tools needed We will provide some tools, but if you have pruning saws, loppers, secateurs and gloves please bring them with you

Clothing needed. It can get very wet here and Piers has let us know that wellies will be absolutely essential!.

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

We’ll work until 12.30 when we will have a hot drink and a slice (or 2, if we can get away with it) of Kim’s yummy home-made cake!

See you there!