Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Elegug Stacks - this evening

A glorious end to the day at Elegug Stacks where, with a large party of students from University of South Wales practicing their seabird ID, we watched  a feeding flock of several hundred gulls just offshore (various species, including a couple of hundred kittiwakes).

The kittiwakes in particular were clearly finding a good food source several cm below the surface, making numerous shallow plunges - often with just their wing-tips showing above the water surface.

It's not particularly unusual to see flocks of kittiwakes feeding just offshore here at this time of year - presumably they include Skomer birds, or perhaps are from or further afield? Quite a few of them were non-breeding 2nd calendar birds or older, including one that seemed to have more or less adult plumage yet no obvious black wing-tips or any black in the wings at all.

It's sad that the once thriving breeding population here (at one time 500-600 nesting pairs) is now down to no more than 3-4 pairs, with annual declines during the last couple of decades. The tiny remnant breeding population (the last one on the Pembs mainland coast) looks likely to finally go extinct this year!

On the stacks though, the auk population seems to be thriving. Several guillemots and razorbills were bringing in fish for their chicks this evening.

It was also nice to see a marsh fritillary butterfly not too far from the cliff edge here. With the good spell of warm sunny weather, its likely that there will be many more marsh frits on the wing here by the Bank Holiday weekend.