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Read by Charley and Dave

ECOLOGIST'S UPDATE

Last week I told you all about catching gannets and putting GPS tags on them with Vicky. I also mentioned that we would be trying to get them back last week as well. We went back to Les Etacs last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; here is how we got on:

DAY 1

Last Tuesday we began our task of re-catching gannets and collecting their tags back so that we can get the data on where the gannets went foraging in the time they were attached. We also had two new tags to put out; these ones are very special as they have solar panels to make them last longer and sim cards so that the data is sent back to Vicky's computer via the phone network.

The new tags have solar panels (in the middle) to keep the battery working longer

The new tags have solar panels (in the middle) to keep the battery working longer

This means that the two birds that were fitted with these tags will send data back for the next few weeks, maybe even a month or two, without us having to recatch the birds - which is very useful! Eventually these tags will fall off but until then we hope they send us lots of interesting data.

Aside from putting the new tags out we were aiming to catch as many of our previously tagged birds as possible. On day 1 we managed to catch 6; which equals the record amount recaught in a single trip that we managed in 2013. So a very good start. Whilst we are working on Les Etacs we can still take time to enjoy the view, and when the gannets are this close we can't help but take photos!

Vicky taking a moment to photograph the gannets

Vicky taking a moment to photograph the gannets

The gannet chicks are already getting as big as the adults!

The gannet chicks are already getting as big as the adults!

DAY 2

On the second day Vicky and I were again able to recatch 6 gannets and remove their GPS tags, bringing our total to 12. Whilst we were on Les Etacs we also noticed the first few chicks to be developing their flight feathers.

A juvenile has its black flight feathers coming through

A juvenile has its black flight feathers coming through

This is a great sign as it shows the chicks are growing up and getting ready to learn to fly in a couple of months. Once they do grow up and learn to fly then they will become like their parents; superb fliers. The second day was windier than the first which meant that the adults were able to show off their flying skills all around us.

Gannets flying above our heads

Gannets flying above our heads

It was an amazing spectacle, made all the better when gannets came in to land right near our feet!

A gannet surveys the rocks for a landing spot whilst being watched from below

A gannet surveys the rocks for a landing spot whilst being watched from below

DAY 3

The third day of gannet recapture was last Thursday, a day cut a bit shorter than the previous two by the threat of rain showers in the afternoon that would be too dangerous to work in. But even in this shorter session we managed to catch another 5 gannets! This brought our total to 17 recaught birds; this was 1 more bird than we managed to recatch in 2013 when we did 5 trips instead of just 3. So these better results have made us very happy!

Vicky is very happy to have collected 17 gannets in less time this year; lots of data to work with!

Vicky is very happy to have collected 17 gannets in less time this year; lots of data to work with!