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The CBO Manx Shearwaters will feature on BBC Springwatch tonight. Tune in to BBC Two at 8pm to see if Gillian Burke will follow in the footsteps of Chris Packham and sniff a Copeland Manxie, as he did back in 2010!Megan McCubbin Hannah Stitfall BTO British Trust for Ornithology Northern Ireland Seabird Network ... See MoreSee Less
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It was a monitoring day on the outer islands on Sunday 16th May, with one team ringing Eider duck on Mew Island, and another conducting a large gull nest count (Herring & Lesser black-backed) on Lighthouse Island. On Mew, 25 new Eider were trapped and ringed (all females) and, just as importantly, 24 previously ringed birds were retrapped. Considering the birds we missed, we reckon the outer Copeland islands must host around 200 breeding Eider - making them one of the most important sites for this sea duck around the Irish coast. On Lighthouse island a team of 9 counted gull nests - using the standard technique of dropping pasta shells beside the nest and counting what’s left over. 975 nests were counted, with an estimate breakdown of 585:390 (HG: LBBG), again indicating the importance of the island as a safe breeding site, particularly for the red-listed (Birds of Conservation Concern) Herring Gull. Fifty Puffin were counted, and sighting of the day was a Bonxie (Great skua) flying into Belfast Lough, and our first Spotted flycatcher of the season on the island. ... See MoreSee Less
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Last weekend saw the first overnight stay at CBO of 2021 though under current restrictions only one household/bubble can stay at any one time for the moment. So it was a quiet enough boat that headed out from Donaghadee on Friday evening with just two of us headed out to the island to stay. Upon first arrival we were treated to beautiful carpets of bluebells across the island and the front of the house is a riot of narcissus! We did not have the island to ourselves for too long as we were joined by a group of volunteers out for a day trip on Saturday to do some habitat management on the island. They did a brilliant job and were hard at work scything and mowing for most of the day! We are incredibly thankful for their hard work! Birds-wise, the island was similarly quiet with few migrants about potentially due to the calm, sunny weather. Some ringing highlights include 2 willow warblers, a chiffchaff and a wheatear. We also had a soaring buzzard over the island on Saturday and Sunday and a peregrine chilling out on Mew on Saturday. Ringing totals for the weekend include (numbers in brackets indicate birds previously caught): Wren 3 (5)Willow Warbler 1 (1)Reed Bunting 2Robin (1)Song Thrush 1Meadow Pipit 1 (2)Wheatear 1Blackbird (1)Chiffchaff 1 ... See MoreSee Less
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Sometimes it’s just the wrong sort of good weather! On Friday 16th April a two-person ringing team departed from Donaghadee at 7am on a clear and sunny spring morning. The weather promised SSE winds – and that’s exactly what we want at this time of year to push the migrants our way on their journey northwards – but at the observatory the wind was just too strong and the skies just too clear, so most migrants passed overhead and didn’t drop down onto Lighthouse Island.The early morning journey outwards was rewarded by sightings of some late Brent geese and a Red-throated diver, and a leucistic ‘white’ Shag was spotted standing on the rocks on Big Copeland.On arriving on the island net rides were cleared and catching boxes set up and the team waited, and checked the nets & traps, and waited… a grand total of two birds were ringed all day, both Robins! Some migrants, however, were recorded passing through – Sand martin, Song thrush, and a collection of large crows – a dozen Rook (an unusual record on CBO, mostly in spring), and twenty Hooded; and a Willow warbler was singing in the small plantation at the front of the observatory buildings.The first returning swallow was also spotted, and the population of Meadow pipit has built up to around twenty.Some habitat maintenance was performed, with the team removing dead vegetation from the Heli traps and clearing some paths, and the walkways around the buildings were scrubbed to remove winter’s build up of moss and algae.The weather remained bright and sunny all day, albeit with a continuous and fairly strong breeze; the Antrim coastline was just about visible, encouraging migrating birds continue on their way.Spring flowering is well underway, with stands of Marsh Marigolds in full bloom in the ditches and wet areas, and the island taking on a blue hue with the Bluebells peeking through. In all 41 bird species were recorded, with the following additions to the 2021 list: Fulmar: 10 circling cliffGrey HerronPeregrine: 1 maleSwallowBlackbirdSong thrushRook: 12MagpieChaffinch ... See MoreSee Less
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Navigating both local restrictions and the crossing from Donaghadee, a bubbled work party travelled to the island to begin reopening tasks and clearing areas for wildlife that winter has left behind.Lots to do across the island, however initial areas to work on were identified and the bubble worked hard throughout the day clearing dead bracken on the puffin slopes, scrubbing very slippery jetties, checking and cleaning the well, reworking the syphon for the loo with a view and checking over the biosecurity markers.With very fortunate timing, 6 puffins arrived in the sound as the work on their slope was being completed, great to see them back again and hopefully the clearance works encourage them to nest again in the burrows this season.Other activities on the day included stock taking of resources, assessment of winters impact to the buildings and environment and a litter pick across the rocks and shingle to the east. Another 4 helium balloons with long ribbons tangled up were removed along with bottles, crisp packets, polystyrene and various other bits and pieces.Hopefully with progress across the Covid restrictions, we will bring positive news about opening up visiting again soon, watch this space.Narcissi & daffodils are in full bloom. We think these are very old varieties - the keepers & their families abandoned the island in the 1880s. The yellow cultivar is Narcissus 'Telamonius Plenus (D4 Y-Y), along with Primrose Peerless - the English name of Narcissus x medioluteus (the hybrid between N. poeticus and N. tazetta, a classic example of a Poetaz daff).With a high count of 32 seals on Mew, and around 35 different species of bird observed on the trip, the wildlife is getting on with it regardless.Birds observed on the day:GannetManx ShearwaterGreylag GooseShelduckMallardEiderTealBuzzardSparrowhawkPheasantOystercatcherCurlewBlack-headed GullCommon GullHerring GullLesser Black-backed GullGreat Black-backed GullSandwich TernPuffinBlack GuillemotGuillemotRazorbillWoodpigeonStock DoveSand MartinRock PipitMeadow PipitPied WagtailWrenRobinWillow WarblerJackdawHooded CrowLinnetReed Bunting ... See MoreSee Less
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