Breeding Bird Survey 2012 Sarah Harris Canada Goose

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Breeding Bird Survey 2012

Sarah Harris


Canada Goose Branta Canadensis 

18 pairs bred on Skomer this year. The first eggs were seen on the 7th April, a clutch of five and the first goslings recorded on the 1st May. Judging from the large numbers of young seen on the island it is thought they had a very good breeding season. 


Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 

Two pairs were around for much of the breeding season, but just one pair was seen with ducklings on North Pond on the 24th May. Unfortunately by the 3rd June the number of ducklings had fallen from six to five, and then reduced again to four on the 6th. Then three were seen on the 27th June, two on the 1st July. This was the last sighting of the ducklings and it is believed the breeding attempt failed.  


Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 

From looking at the dates nests were found and ducklings seen, seven pairs of Mallard nested on Skomer this season.  Another pair at South pond was in constant attendance throughout the breeding season but no signs of breeding were found. The first ducklings were seen on the 14th April. 


Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata  

A family of nine ducklings were seen on North Pond on the 24th May, but none were seen after this date, probably indicating the worse. A second pair was seen on Moory Mere throughout May, sometimes together but the male was also seen alone, quietly calling, possibly to a female on a nest. This seems to indicate a second pair attempted to breed on Skomer but were unsuccessful.  


Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Present and bred. Numbers unknown but the maximum count of the season was 15 and chicks were seen from the 6th May. 


Common Buzzard Buteo buteo  

Three nests were found. Two nests found close together (Bull Hole and The Table) had eggs 22 days apart from one another but both were successful, fledging four chicks in total. The third nest, on South Plateau, is thought to have failed during storms. A further three territories were plotted but the outcome of these is unknown; it isn’t certain if breeding attempts were made in these places. 


Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Three pairs bred on Skomer this season, with two nests fledging at least one chick each along the North Coast and in South Haven. The first fledgling was seen on the 28th June. The outcome of the pair on the Neck is unknown. Lastly, there was a possible fourth pair which spent most of the season along the west coast and may have attempted to breed there. 


Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Moorhen pairs were counted early on in the breeding season, and then the individual families used to confirm the earlier counts. Being double brooded it was important not to count the same pair twice. 12 pairs bred on Skomer this season. Nest building was seen from the 18th April and the first chicks from the 4th May. 


Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus

Seventy-four pairs of Oystercatchers were plotted fairly evenly over Skomer. Judging from the high numbers of chicks reaching independence it is thought this was a good breeding season for Oystercatchers. There is the possibility that some of the pairs nesting at the base of cliffs were not found and counted, therefore 74 is a minimum count for this species. 


Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata  

Four pairs nested on Skomer this season. One failed early on due to the wet weather. Two other pairs successfully raised at least one chick each and the outcome from the fourth pair is unknown. Curlews displayed from early March and the first chicks were reported on the 21st May. 


Common Woodpigeon Columba palumbus 

Few nests were found but there were six territories held on Skomer this season. Some pairs were evidently double brooded. 


Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus

One pair attempted to breed in North Valley, with wing clapping from the 11th April and mating was seen on the 8th May. Sadly this pair failed, probably due to the weather. A second pair tried to breed in South Valley but they didn’t spend enough time in the area to suggest they were successful. The North Valley pair then gave the impression they were trying again, but without success.  


Little Owl Athene noctua

One pair definitely bred west of the farm, delivering food to the nest on the 15th May and raised three out of four chicks to fledging. The chicks could be observed around the nest site from the 8th June. Pellets from the nest show that Storm Petrels contributed to their diet. A second pair was often seen near Abyssinia and west pond and an adult bird was found in what appeared to be an unused nest site. Whether they actually attempted to breed is unknown.  


Common Skylark Alauda arvensis 

Eight pairs of Skylark held territories on Skomer this year. Multiple broods were attempted in similar locations to their first. How well they did this year is unknown, but the inclement weather and lack of fledglings seen might suggest it was not their best year. 


Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 

Swallows were first seen on the 25th March but it wasn’t until the 5th May that they started to explore the buildings around the farm and start singing. In Mid-July the first young were seen. Seven pairs bred on Skomer this season, six of these were at the farm, the other at the lower Lime Kiln at North Haven. 


Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus

Twenty-seven Rock Pipit territories were plotted this season. This is thought to be an underestimate. By looking at the close proximity in which this species nest in areas easily accessible and therefore accurately surveyed, it is predicted that larger gaps between some territories is more likely to be an issue of surveyor accessibility, rather than an absence in a breeding pair in that location. It is probably not a great exaggeration to suggest that only half the breeding population was plotted.  

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

Sixty-seven Meadow Pipits territories were counted this season, taking into account multiple broods and avoiding double-counting any pairs. Nesting material was being carried from the 11th April, eggs seen by the 14th May and chick feeding from the 21st May. 


Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii

Five Pied Wagtail territories were mapped this year with pairs on South Plateau, near Wick Stream, Moory Mere, the Landing Stage and at the farm. 


Dunnock Prunella modularis

Dunnock pairs were plotted in 21 places, breeding almost everywhere with Bramble or shrubs. 


Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe 

Nest building was witnessed from the 13th April, whilst Greenland Wheatears were still passing through and only half way to their breeding grounds. Fledglings were seen from the 13th June. Eighteen pairs nested this season.  

Common Blackbird Turdus merula 

Blackbirds are pretty secretive on Skomer, but six territories were found. Their secretiveness may be due to the lack of competition on Skomer, all keeping themselves to themselves for most of the season. 


Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis

Twenty pairs of Whitethroats bred on Skomer this season, clustered in areas with lots of Scrub. Nest building was seen from the 10th May.  


Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

This season 44 Sedge Warbler territories were identified, most of which ran along the streams of North and South Valleys and around the farm buildings.  


Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybia

One pair is thought to have nested in North Valley and possibly had a second brood a little further up at North Valley Crossing later in the season. A second pair bred by the farm buildings. Birds were singing in these areas throughout the breeding season. 


Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Eighty-five Wren territories were mapped this season. Nest building was seen from the 8th April. 


Common Magpie Pica pica 

Magpie territories and nests were found in 13 locations on Skomer. Predictably, they favoured the Bramble and bushes of Skomer in which to nest. 


Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula

Just seven Jackdaw nest sites were located. This species is near impossible to survey using standard Breeding Bird Survey techniques. Nesting in burrows and cliff crevices means a tailor-made study method would need to be adopted in order to find out how many Jackdaws really nest on Skomer. Observations suggest North Haven, The Basin, Waybench and Bull Hole are the favoured areas. 


Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax  

Based on the locations birds were seen throughout the season and their territorial behaviour, between four and five pairs attempted to breed on Skomer. However, no evidence of any success was seen. Family parties were seen on Skomer but could have come over from the mainland. 


Carrion Crow Corvus corone corone

Eight Crow nests were located on Skomer. It is possible some nests around the cliffs of Skomer could have been missed due to inaccessibility to such cliffs.   


Common Raven Corvus corax

The 17th April saw the first Raven chicks fledging at the Amos. The nests at the Amos and Mew Stone both raised four chicks to fledging. The North Coast pair was seen with one youngster, Amy’s reach pair were not seen with eggs or chicks and the possibility of a fifth pair at Pigstone Bay lacked solid evidence - there is a chance it was the Amos pair flying round to the west coast.  

Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina 

On the 26th May a family of Linnets were seen at the farm, but they could have come over from the mainland. Linnets were seen all season and the island does host a variety of suitable habitats for breeding Linnets but breeding as not proved despite occasional singing birds.  


Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus 

Three Reed Bunting territories were recorded on Skomer this season. Pairs were seen near North Castle, in North Valley and between Gorse Hill and Moory Mere.

The following seabird species bred on Skomer in 2012, but were reported elsewhere:

Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus

European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus

Herring Gull Larus argentatus argenteus

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus graellsii

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus

Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla

Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica

Razorbill Alca torda

Common Guillemot Uria aalge

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