Archive | June 2018

Summer, sunshine and seabirds

After such a long, cold and wet winter, summer has come early to North Devon.

 

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And what better way to make the most of it than a trip along the coast on a small boat. A group of wildlife enthusiasts invited us along on a local lobster boat for a cruise along the cliffs to see and count the seabirds breeding there.

 

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What an adventure! We boarded the Our Jenny in Ilfracombe harbour, and headed East along the coast.

 

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There were fulmars nesting at intervals along the coast, but once we passed Combe Martin we started to see shag nests, and a few auks. There are three speciesĀ  of auks breeding in the UK, but only two are found regularly on the mainland cliffs – razorbills and guillemots. The third species, the adorable puffin, is found only on offshore islands, apart from a colony on Anglesey.

 

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This is a little raft of guillemots resting on the water. Razorbills look similar, but are black rather than chocolate brown, and have a broader bill. As we travelled east, the colonies started to get larger, until we reached the best breeding areas between Heddon’s Mouth and Lee Bay.

 

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Here there were hundreds of razorbills, and over a thousand guillemots, which was a very impressive sight, and hard to count!

 

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We continued as far as Lynmouth, where we had a short breakĀ  for tea and doughnuts, before heading back along the coast.

 

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Our total seabird counts for the day were:

Fulmar: 109 nests

Razorbill: 621

Guillemot: 1596

Kittiwake: 90 nests

These are only estimates, but are still valuable, as these birds are impossible to count apart from by boat.

It was a most enjoyable morning, with wonderful weather, and we rounded it off with a huge plate of mostly local seafood on the quayside.

 

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