Saturday, 23 April 2011

Eggstraordinarily early season for guillemots!

They do say never work with children and animals, I have worked with both for over 20 years now, and neither of them ever fails to amaze me! The seabirds at St Abbs have been studied for decades, and very detailed records have been kept since the mid 1980s and the guillemots have never been recorded laying before 25th April, and sometimes they will leave it as late as 9th May. So, we were rather taken aback to hear from the folk on the Isle of May, that they had seen their first egg on the 15th, and sure enough, when we went out to check (it was the 21st by now) there were quite a few birds sitting on eggs! Have yet to hear what is going on on the Farnes, but I have no doubt that they will be early too. We are all scratching our heads a bit as to why they are breeding so early; is it something to do with the hard winter, or something to do with the birds reacting to climate change warming North Sea? It'll be interesting to hear from the colonies on the west coast of Scotland to see what is happening there - I am yet to hear back from our Seabird & Marine Ranger on St Kilda.

But whatever is happening elsewhere, we are now keeping a wary eye on all the other seabirds to see if they are going to follow suit; certainly the kittiwakes are nest building already. So, if you are planning a visit to St Abbs to see the seabirds, you may wish to come a couple of weeks earlier than you originally planned! We will keep you posted.

And it just goes to show; however much we humans think we know about the natural world, it can always catch us out and leave us with egg on our faces (sorry...couldn't resist!)

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