Science is all about ‘ologys’ – biology, ornithology or in the case of today Scatology. That’s the science of poo if you didn’t know.
Today I teamed up with the Sea Mammal Research Unit in search of Seal poo in Broad Bay. At daybreak I met up with Tom the boatman, Caya and Donald (aka Gillian Mackeith – sorry D) and we sailed out of Brevig harbour at Back with an Iceland Gull already in the bag under the floodlights of the harbour wall (see record shot).
We headed to the skerries off Gress that were fully exposed at low tide and were greeted by a number of mammals. The first four on the eastern most haul out were Greys, with their distinct Roman noses, but the next 42 were cuter Harbour Seals with their more rounded face and gentler features.
Landing was fun, on the slippy seaweed covered rocks, but the rubber dry suit, which was rather snug to get into, did its job and kept the salty waters out. No poo on the first skerry but the second proved to be a Scatologists paradise with an entire sack of poo collected. The idea is that this can be examined for DNA and diet histories so a picture can be built up and we might learn why Harbour Seals are declining. For more details of the teams work see
Another (or the same?) juvenile Iceland Gull flew over Gress early afternoon while an adult was briefly off Goat Island. Also in Broad Bay there were 23 Slavonian Grebe, 315 Great Northern Divers , 9 Red-throated Divers, 220 Long-tailed Duck, 530 Eider, and 100 Common Scoter. In the right calm conditions some significant counts can be made. 17 Twite at Tong Farm and 11 Goldfinches was also positive to see- good to know that active island farming can hold small finches.