Monday, 4 July 2011

A Trip to Treasure Island

Flat Holm Island is often described as being ‘Rich in wildlife, steeped in history’, and after a rowdy weekend wrestling with young gulls and avoiding the dive bombs of the 5000+ adult Lesser Black-backed gull population, this can be suitably adapted to ‘Rich(ard) in a boiler suit, steeped in gull poo!'.

Yes, this weekend marked the annual gull catch on Flat Holm, an important long term study of the lesser black back gull population that dates back to the dark ages.  ‘…And yay….’, the future scholars and scribes would declare ‘ ….t’would take a brave army of ringers to boldly  march into the battlefield of the central gull colony on Flat Holm’- and what better army to do the job than one led by Captain Bailey and Field Marshal Durham.  The outfit included a crack commando squad comprising Chris ‘Machete’ Jones, Dr Larus Ross-Smith, Dora ‘the Explorer’ Querido, trained civilian natives and a couple of lesser A-permit officers (one of which may or may not be sexist in the field).
A local imbecile eyes up his lunch

Not exactly clockwork but the mission was successful with 100 gull chicks each donning a metal ring and a corresponding colour ring. Other highlights included 41 newly ringed passerines including blackcaps, blackbirds and a common redstart. The session also recaptured a dunnock ringed as a juvenile in 2003 (Island life must be good).

24 hours of island life is certainly enough to make you feel in tune with nature, the sun and the sea. But was it the mid-summer heat, the pure physical exertion of the catch or the late night performance of the Bailey Foghorn that resulted in such total exhaustion?  
Machete and the Explorer mid-battle

So if you are looking for the chance to get away from the busy streets of the city and take in the calm wonders of island life, I suggest you get on the boat and go to the Caribbean.  However if you want to feel part of the landscape in amongst the beaks of gulls, horns of sheep and the leaves of the wild turnip, then jump on the boat to Flat Holm.  Did I mention the pub?

A lesser A permit Officer cant believe his luck
Thanks to Brian, Maurice, Natalie and the Wardens for having the Cardiff Ringers along, it is a real privilege to be part of the project.

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