I have posted this blog for Hayley Riseborough, the blog written by Stuart.
Below the blog please find pictures of the fitting of the remote camera for the filming of the Chough. I have also included a picture that I have taken today of the female Chough sitting her eggs (as yet we do not know how many).
Also I have added a couple or two pictures that I took today, guillemot's and razorbills resting on the rocks below Ellins tower.
The breeding antics (much of which is only suitable for after the nine o'clock watershed) of both the chough and razorbills will shortly be seen by all on the web thanks to the skill and bravery of our friends at Plas Y Brenin. Many people ask us how we get this incredible footage given the steep rocky cliffs which make up much of our reserve. It takes a special type of person to undertake such work and certainly not for the faint hearted.
The climbers start their work in early February during some of the harshest weather. The work must be completed before the birds return to nest from early March. If the birds have started to breed we are not able to go near the nest and we would loose a years viewing. A number of climbers go down the rock face to remove the cameras for the purposes of maintenance and repair. Those of you who have visited the site recently and witnessed the antics of the razorbills will have seen the comical little birds admiring themselves in the reflection of the camera. Once repaired the climbers make the arduous task to replace them in the caves and ensure they are directed to the correct place ready for the coming season. With the chough this means entering a cave which is dark and very cold. The cameras have been in the cave now for many years and bring back hours of footage from the start of the breeding season. These climbers also assisted in placing cables from the cameras back to the visitors centre connecting the cable to the rocks along the way.
The chough have laid their eggs now although we cannot seen how many as the mother chough keeps them nice and cosy wrapped up in lots of horse and goat hair. The female has been sitting on the nest and is constantly digging below her, turning her eggs so they stay warm all over. It is expected we should have young within 17/18 days of her sitting which will be around the 1st May. Keep looking out on your computer from that date to see if you can be first to spot the young!
There are to two pairs of razorbill squeezing into a small crevice between two rocks and hopefully within the next few days they will also lay their egg! The incubation period is around 36 days so plenty of time for you to get down to the reserve and enjoy these birds either from the Visitor Centre or Ellin's Tower. We would expect the young to leave the nest around 20 days later making the spectacular leap into the water from the cliffs.
Whilst I sit typing this blog one of our able volunteers is working through hours and hours of footage to make up the videos you can enjoy when the birds have left their nest. Hope you are able to come to see us and relive our favourite moments from this year's webcam!