Last week Aurelie wrote your Daily Digests so that she could tell you all about Gull ringing, her time on Burhou doing the ringing and what type of things she gets up to on Alderney. Whilst she was telling you all about the exciting adventures she was having, I was having an adventure of my own - climbing Les Etacs to catch and tag Gannets!!
I have told you all about tagging before whilst working with the Shags, but doing the same work on the Gannets is an entirely different experience, and today I will tell you all about it!
The first part of the adventure is actually getting on to Les Etacs. This meant Roland, the Alderney Wildlife Trust Manager, had to row myself, Vicky and Phil Atkinson (a professional bird ringer from the British Trust for Ornithology - BTO) onto the island one-by-one.
Roland rowing Vicky on to Les Etacs
Once all three of us were on Les Etacs we had to climb up to where all the Gannets were. Rolands view of us from the water shows just how high we had to climb!
We had a target of 27 Gannets to catch as that is how many satellite tags we had, and in five and a half hours we managed to catch our entire quota and send out all 27 tags!
Vicky attaching the tag whilst Phil holds the Gannet
Unlike the Shags (and Gulls which you will learn about on Wednesday) which have the tags taped to their back, the Gannets have the tag attached to their tail feathers. This is because they are much bigger birds and dive into the water to catch fish very quickly, so attaching the tag to the tail rather than the back means it is more likely to stay on for 10 days. After 10 days we will be climbing Les Etacs again to re-catch the birds and take the tags off ourselves to collect the data.
The tag is taped between tail feathers to keep it in place
Despite the fact that we were catching the Gannets to tag them, most of the birds stayed on their nest whilst we were working. This meant that we were always surrounded by these impressive birds.
Vicky tagging a Gannet whilst the rest of the colony watches
You can see us wearing hard hats and goggles in the pictures for protection. Being so close to these birds can be dangerous, all three of us got hit across the side of the head at some stage during the day by Gannets taking off to fly! This certainly hurts, but without the hard hats it would have been much more painful!
But, despite the dangers, the day went perfectly, and we got the most amazing views of the colony going about their daily lives. Come back for tomorrow's Daily Digest to see more of the Gannets and their life on Les Etacs!
Monday 17th June
Max 14 degrees / Min 13 degrees
Wind direction: East North Easterly 20mph
Description: Heavy Rain
Today's Puffin Fact
Adult Puffins take turns in flying out to sea to catch fish for the Puffling.
Having trained as a graphic designer and illustrator Filip began a career change in 2013. He gained skills in applied ecology and land management on the Great Fen Project in Cambridgeshire before moving to BirdLife Malta to work in wildlife crime mitigation, injured bird care and campaigning.
As research assistant for the Malta Seabird Project Filip worked with gulls, shearwaters and storm-petrels while developing an understanding of seabird ecology.
He is tasked with writing the next five-year management strategy for the Alderney West Coast and Burhou Islands Ramsar Site, and leading the seabird season for 2016.