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Grassholm Fieldwork - Trip 2

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Our second trip of the season to the RSPB reserve of Grassholm Island, which is home to 36,000 pairs of northern gannets, was delayed by a few days due to weather. The swell was a little too big for getting onto the island (there is no landing, so we carefully step off the boat and scramble up the rocks), but eventually on Saturday 27th July we were on the boat to Grassholm!


There was still some swell so the boat ride was a bit damp. When we arrived the sea state meant that we had to land further away than usual. This meant lots of shuttling equipment over the rocks to reach our camp site.


As with the previous trip our main aims were to: deploy GPS tags either alone or with a small camera or an AudioMoth tag (which record sound), recover GLS tags, resight Darvic ringed birds, collect feather samples (for stable isotope analysis) and collect diet samples that are regurgitated by gannets.


This time the weather was much better for catching gannets (cooler, windy), so we managed to deploy 21 GPS tags, 6 cameras, 6 AudioMoth tags and recover 10 GPS tags (though one was waterlogged), 1 camera (two birds lost their cameras) and 4 AudioMoth tags. We also deployed 13 GLS tags (to be recovered next year) and recovered 3 GLS tags from previous years.


After a successful trip we packed up camp where we were rewarded with fantastic views of Risso's dolphins just off the east side of Grassholm Island. On our next (and final) trip of the season we will focus on recovering any outstanding tags, check back here to find out how it goes!


Thanks to RSPB wardens Greg and Lisa for allowing access to Grassholm, Tim Brooke for getting us there and back as well as this trip’s team (Steve Votier, Greg Morgan, Alys Perry, Kirsty Laurenson, Kelly Atkins and Hannah Meinertzhagen) for all their hard work.


By Hannah Meinertzhagen

(Photos: Kirsty Laurenson, Kelly Atkins and Hannah Meinertzhagen)

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