Saturday, 9 August 2014

Holes in the ground

Entering a cave with Holly and Be
Seal pup

It seems that a lot of the wildlife on Skomer likes to live below ground. Puffin, Manx shearwater, storm petrel, even seals.

At this time of year the Atlantic Grey Seals come ashore to pup. They like secluded beaches, especially if that means hidden in the back of a cave. On Skomer the wardens monitor the number of adults and pups, so into the caves you have to go.

Nice view from the cave
Shearwater chick down a burrow

Having finished checking the caves for seal pups it was off to check smaller holes for fluffy rather than furry occupants.

Manx shearwater chick

Shearwater chicks are studied on Skomer and part of this involves ringing or banding the chicks so they can be identified individually. The small metal ring that goes on the leg doesn't hurt them and is super lightweight and has a unique code printed on it. This can give all sorts of information when birds are seen or caught again in the future and is a priceless scientific tool. The photo above is the youngest chick in the study plot, the older birds are loosing their grey fluff and growing their proper black feathers.

Interestingly a lot of chicks are now heavier than their parents. These reserves will be used for growing their feathers and exercising their wings, slimming down to flying weight when they fledge and leave Skomer.

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