Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Wetter than normal

Water-logged puffin burrow
Kittiwakes nests with water pouring down the cliffs through the nests.

Like everywhere else we got some horrible weather on Friday and Saturday and we are just having time to work out what the effect was. Continuous rain for 2 days resulted in about 1.5 inches of rain (courtesy of our new rain gauge) and this was on top of a pretty wet island already. This rain combined with a cold howling wind has been awful for the seabirds. A good look around when the weather had cleared revealed  what initially seemed to be disastrous. A number of puffin chicks were found driven out of their burrows by rising waters that had flooded burrows with more  been drowned in their burrows or picked off by the gulls. On the cliffs there were some completely water-logged kittiwake nests  that had lost chicks or eggs and one or two determined birds trying to continue to incubate while sitting under a waterfall of water flowing down the cliffs. 
For the shags it was the medium sized chicks that had suffered the most with a number of clutches lost that were too big to fit under their parents but too small to have lost their down and grown waterproof feathers. The cold and wet did for them. But even when dead something positive came out of it and Hanna has put in a heroic effort and dissected more dead chicks that Silent Witness to find out more about the intestinal parasites that they hold.
But the overwhelming thought is that despite these losses it is amazing that it wasn't worse. These seabirds show amazing fortitude to get through this weather and most are today now enjoying the warmer weather and thriving. 
The other benefit of all this rain is that you will notice that this year there are no references to smelliness of island inhabitants and shower bans as the well is`full and our personal hygiene standards have improved no end. A small silver lining to this big wet cloud. 
Water logged guillemot

Hanna doing her umpteenth dissection of dead shag chicks.

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