Monday, 18 October 2010
High in the Arctic seas, Little Auks, a tiny cousin of the Puffin, live and breed, never venturing far to warmer climes. Breeding in communal colonies numbering tens of thousands they are dependent on 2 mm marine crustaceans called Copepods. Sadly, and it's a rare occurence, Little Auks can be displaced by strong northerly winds and for such a small bird they can become wrecked on our shores 800 miles from home. Even worse, these wrecked birds are set to starve if they don't have the latent energy reserves to return quickly.
This Little Auk was disorientated and paddling along the beach line and then eventually back out to sea. I had a small chance of capturing this bird, but it flapped back out to sea, just before I was going to make my move. David at the Dungeness Bird Observatory, has first-hand experience of trying to feed starving Little Auks in the past, and believes them to be impossibly hard to feed and return to sea successfully. One small hope for this bird, is that I did see it diving for food, but I'm unsure if the copepods it vitally needs would be present.
This is the first Little Auk I've seen for probably twenty years. It looked a strikingly cute bird, - hard to believe it was a resident of the high Arctic. It will have to take its chances and try to return back up North on its own. With inquisitive Gulls following its every move, its going to need a lot of luck just to find its way just out of Dungeness.
Somewhere our Little Auk is out there. Sunset over Rye bay, at least the weather was kind to it last night.
Posted by Nick Green at 8:58 pm