(I'm sure every bird blog over the summer will use that pun)
So for our first week here we were getting up at 7am and doing counts of all of the Black Guillemots on Rockabill, to get an estimation of the amount of adults and breeding pairs likely to be here over the summer. While we were doing that we also put out a few special nest boxes, and checked some of the existing holes used by Black Guillemots for eggs. We've seen plenty of holes with heads poking out of them, and a lot have had nice neat little scrapes (they don't build nests - just scrape a kind of little bowl shape in the gravel/soil), ready for egg-laying which we knew could start any day now.
|Black Guillemots (All pictures taken under NPWS license)|
So while we were doing some jobs this morning we had a look in some of the holes we were passing. This hole in a wall, partly blocked up by bricks (for shelter) is used by a pair of Black Guillemots and we've given it the rather catchy name of 'east of Fire Point' (it's to the east of a fire point, but you probably guessed that..)....
|Home for a pair of Black Guillemots - plenty of shelter and surprisingly spacious inside!|
And when Donnacha took a look inside it around 10am this morning, this is what he saw:
|(Picture taken under NPWS license)|
|Black Guillemot egg - the first egg laid on Rockabill in 2014!|
(Picture taken under NPWS license)
You can imagine our delight to find the first egg on the island for the 2014 breeding season! We've checked most of the other Black Guillemot nestboxes and holes and none have eggs yet, but we're told by Dr. Steve Newton that the first Black Guillemot egg is usually laid in that part of the island each year!
So there you have it, the first egg of many on Rockabill this year. We'll keep you updated with any further finds!
- Brian and Donnacha
*We should note that any pictures of eggs or breeding birds on Rockabill shown in this blog are taken with the appropriate NPWS license and nests are accessed as part of our conservation work and research. Under no circumstances should anyone take photos of nests without the appropriate license and training as it can lead to disastrous consequences for the eggs in question - particularly in areas with a lot of gulls or crows!