Friday, 6 May 2011

Taking Your Tern with the Water

We woke up to rain this morning. Seeing as we haven't had any for weeks this was a bit of a novelty. And it has a special relevance to us out here because our water supply comes from a well on the island that is shallow and is totally reliant on the amount of rain fall. This is often a dry time of year and coincides with a lot of people staying on the island so a shower ration is in place. People are restricted to only a shower or two a week unless they are voted to have one sooner. A good dumping of rain means that showers for the next week or so are guaranteed. Bethany (kittiwake researcher) was straight in there this afternoon to get her quota of water. Unfortunately a clean and sweet smelling Bethany only showed the rest of us up in contrast.

The rain also suited another of the island inhabitants, the snails. In the dry weather they hide in the cracks of the walls where the oystercatchers seek them out and crack them open. In the rain the snails suddenly come to life, shooting all over the place, racing each other in a burst of exuberance round the rhubarb leaves and up the walls and making every one of my steps a crunch. It is great to see them having fun as long they stay away from my peas and spinach that is just starting to come through in the garden.

Another fine welcome this morning was the sound of screams and clicks coming from above the island. The terns are starting to appear. A few birds have been seen over the last few days but this morning there were over 20 birds whirling around the top of the island up by the Beacon. This is still no where near enough for a proper colony but it is early yet and there is still time for the numbers to build up. The peace and quiet of the island is actually made up from a wall of bird noises from the 200,000 birds living on the island but that cacophony isn't complete until the terns are back. Last month the BTCV volunteers built some nesting platforms for the terns so if you are reading this guys then so far so good, we have a few terns but need a few more before they start coming down to the ground to inspect your nesting squares. I will keep you posted.


  1. another wonderful post. gorgeous photo's! this made me laugh: "a shower or two a week unless they are voted to have one sooner." what a fabulous system. more workplaces should adopt it.

  2. thanks Susan, glad you are enjoying the blog, besure to pass it onto others if you think that they will enjoy it, as for showers we have residents trying dry shampoo in an effort to save water, will let you know how it works out.

  3. OMG snails. I'd forgotten about the snails. I'm in Canada now and where I am we don't get snails - at least not like the ones you have and I remember from growing up in St. Monans. It is funny what was so common is easily forgotten. I'd have snail over mosquitoes any day of the week.
    David, I love your blog. You have allowed me a peek at what I used to take for granted. Keep up the great work you do. One day I'll be back.