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Read by Charley and Dave

ECOLOGIST'S UPDATE

Back on the 13th June Vicky (PhD student from Liverpool) and I were joined by Phil Atkinson from the British Trust of Ornithology to catch and tag the gannets on Les Etacs. This is to study their foraging behaviour for Vicky's work but does require us to catch 28 gannets in a colony of 6,000 pairs on a very steep rock; climbing the rock can be very daunting from the bottom!

Climb of Les Etacs

Once we made it safely to the top we had to catch the gannets and keep them under control. A sock over the head to make it dark is a surprisingly good way of calming them down.

Phil holds the gannet whilst a sock over the head keeps it calm!

Phil holds the gannet whilst a sock over the head keeps it calm!

Once the gannet is under control Vicky then attaches the tag to the tail.

Attaching the tag

Attaching the tag

The tags will last for 10 days or so but to get the data we have to go back to Les Etacs and re-catch the birds. Knowing which 28 gannets you have caught out of 6,000 would be impossible. So we spray paint (don't worry, it is safe!) the gannets and the nests we have tagged on so we can locate them again during recapture.

Caught birds and nests get sprayed to relocate them (it washes off soon after we recatch)

Caught birds and nests get sprayed to relocate them (it washes off soon after we recatch)

Whilst we are on Les Etacs to work sometimes you just have to step back and appreciate the amazing view and how exciting our jobs can be! Especially when you see nature in action.

Nature in action - a hatching chick!

Nature in action - a hatching chick!

The view is stunning; for us and gannet chicks alike!

The view is stunning; for us and gannet chicks alike!

Whilst you are reading this Vicky and I will actually be on Les Etacs again trying to get the tags back off the gannets to collect the data. So make sure you check next Wednesdays update for all the information on how we got on.

We managed to catch 28 gannets in just over 3 hours, last year it took 5.5 hours to catch 27! So we had a really great day; but it was made perfect by what we saw on the return trip back to Alderney... DOLPHINS!!!

Bottlenose dolphin swimming past Alderney

Bottlenose dolphin swimming past Alderney

The dolphins swam in close to the boat and even started leaping out of the water to show off (although we missed the leaping on camera). The entire day was amazing and very successful, and all on the supposedly "unlucky Friday the 13th" as well!

Dolphins swimming alongside our boat

Dolphins swimming alongside our boat

Dolphins in Braye