Flat Holm Gull Count
The annual Gull Count on Flat Holm took place last weekend, luckily we had some very good weather for it. Cardiff Sea Safaris managed to bring out 6 willing volunteers from the Flat Holm Society to assist, unfortunately they were unable to do the sail around for the cliff count due to the rough water at the landing stage. We will attempt to do this at the lowest tide tomorrow by walking around and see if we can get an accurate cliff count this year as well.
We had some new faces and some old hands at bird counting, it was my 4th year of being involved with this particular count. Essential supplies are boiler suit, gloves, tin of spray paint, hard hat and that all important tea towel for back of neck protection. Don’t want gull poo sliding down your back now, that can really ruin the experience. :-)
It involves walking every inch of the gull colony side of the island which is split into 5 different sectors and counting every single nest you can find. We split into teams of 2 or 3 and select our sector, then methodically search every inch, putting a mark near every nest we find. It is important to look under every bush and nose into the buildings where safe to do so. Obviously the gulls don’t particularly like this intrusion but its necessary to monitor the health of the colony and usually takes about 4 to 5 hours.
Once we have done the first count, one person from a different sector walks through yours and counts the first hundred nests they see marked or unmarked and from this we get our error rate and can correct the first count, making it even more accurate.
We got well and truly covered, I took a direct hit to my clipboard within minutes of entering the colony, which my team mates found hilarious, luckily I had some spare paper in my pocket, always prepared!
We had a final tally of 3606 Lesser Black Backed Gull nests and 5 Herring Gull nest on the island top, down slightly on last year but we hope the cliff count when done will bring this number back up.
Thank you to all the volunteers involved this year, it was a huge success. Fingers crossed for good weather when we come to do the Gull Ringing in July.
Photo: Ray and Stuart helping me in sector ten.