Monday – just another special day

Monday is a tough day most weeks in normal land, but out here events and little accomplishments give each day something special.

Today we had a couple of cool old friends appear: Ping appeared in the Fank Gulley and later Discus was seen on the west edge of the colony. These are animals that have featured in our records for many years. It is still worrying that there are just over 100 females visible in the whole of Fianuis South. When I first started mapping this area in 1996, 350 females used the area at this time in the season. Fianuis North is the same. The reappearance of many of our known animals contrasts with the decline in general.

The first photosurvey from Sean’s Revenge took place this afternoon, while Sian trekked north to do FN. Toby trialled his new observation regime, and found his batteries were a bit less reliable than anticipated.

We look forward to a curry this evening, courtesy of TO.

It’s a tad windy.

So when I was told that “The north winds are the worst up there on Rona – they bring the cold” I didn’t think we were going to notice it that much. Well the north winds are definitely blowing and by Jove it’s noticeable! This may also have something to do with the fact that it’s a STORM FORCE 10 out here at the moment. It appeared out of nowhere overnight too.

I was making my way up to the hide, thinking of what individuals I’d be able to recognise (due to their individual pelage markings) when I see the photo-ID hide about 50m away from where it should have been…and on it’s head. We spent the rest of the morning salvaging, and securing the other two hides as much as we could (although we’re sceptical on whether or not they’ll be there tomorrow). All this in a STORM FORCE 10, may I add again – ruddy good fun! The photo-ID hide may be repairable. Although the back panel for it flew off in to the wind and off the cliff when we were trying to dismantle it. So it’ll be more of a photo-ID wind tunnel now…The only thing Sian seems to be preoccupied about though, is whether the cider and wine is secure or not.

In other news, we spent yesterday in the colony – and saw a lot of male-male and male-female aggro – I learnt a lot!

Looking forward to the following days of wind-related fun – no pun intended regarding Sian’s curries.

The weather has turned!

Hello from a blustery wet Rona – those dry warm days seem like a lifetime ago.

We’ve had a very busy weekend – on Friday we were doing photo surveys – to get pictures of as many of the seals in the study area as possible to see who’s here. We reckon without the computer programme for comparison we know at least half of the seals here from previous years. With the programme helping out this rises to about 70% so far.

Saturday saw us venture down into the colony for the first time this year. Close up pictures and pup weighing were experiences new to the TobSiaJam set. In fact, James came quite close to singing soprano again when he let a pup nuzzle him a little too closely – happily, no real harm done to man or beast (as far as we know).

Today’s been grim – gale force mist and rain, making obs a bit difficult. Toby saved the day by creating something great featuring chorizo for dinner. (Food is a real highlight here – we all think we’re eating a lot more than at home).

Monday will start with fetching water from the well before breakfast, making a large pot of porridge, eating and then getting out to the hides for the day.
Listening to the forecast as I type this, we’re in for more of the same. Yeughh.


P, J, S, T.

Seals on the up.

It’s James here – my turn to blog.

The number of seals in the study area is slowly increasing – new arrivals from the sea keeping Toby and Paddy busy and new births to keep me and Sian busy.

I took a short break from monitoring births today to help Paddy with a photo-survey of the study area, which brings our total number of ‘known’ females up to 24 this season, with more likely in the next few days.

Following on from last years efforts to identify seal types (e.g. imbe-SEAL), I’d like to introduce “fifty-shades-of grey seal”. We currently have a male in the study area who, when not sleeping or chasing away other males, seems content with pouncing on unwitting females and biting their flippers, then lying back as they claw at him ferociously. It takes all sorts…

In other news, the weather has finally taken a turn for the worse, but we’re still in high spirits as our hides are keeping us dry and Sian has just made us some popcorn. It’s a hard life…

All the best,


Hello from Sian.

Hi this is Sian posting today’s blog from the team.

For the last 4 days we have had unexpectedly good weather and glorious sunshine. Paddy has been catching some rays in his deckchair (a wheelbarrow) on his lunch break.

James and I have been spending our days watching and waiting for the seal mums to give birth, in order to video the event to look at maternal behaviour and interactions between mum and pup with gulls. Much to our disappointment we have only been able to video one birth so far, but I hope that our perseverance will soon pay off. In the meantime, we’re kept amused by the antics of the seals, dozens of fulmars gliding over the colony, and yesterday we were treated to a brief aerobatic display of a kestrel chasing its lunch.

Contributions to our origami safari have been made by each of the team (thanks for the book Mum!). The most recent addition is an origami seal, which decorated the top of Paddy’s party hat for his birthday celebrations last night.

Hoping that tomorrow brings more sunshine, but most importantly, more births!