31 December 2019
We celebrate the end of the year with great news for the PonDerat project: the fledge of Ligea. Who is Ligea? Let’s start from the beginning.
In August we discovered, almost by chance, a quite accessible nest of Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) in Ventotene, and we could observe the hatching and first flight of a shearwater chick. This is usually very difficult, because nests are generally placed out of sight on unaccessible cliffs, and because rats predate both eggs and chicks. The PonDerat project completed rat eradication from Ventotene and Palmarola, and if few years ago in Palmarola only one chick out of 10 took was able to fledge, this year 9 out of 10 survived. A great success!
We called the chick born in Ventotene with the name of a mermaid from Greek mythology, Ligea, because Scopoli's shearwaters are probably involved with the mermaids’ legend. The calls of these seabirds sound like a crying baby and it might be that in ancient times sailors listening to these sounds imagined some mythological female beings trying to attract them. For those who have never listened to the voices of the Scopoli's shearwater we have attached to this post some recordings of the sounds coming from the nest. These are the voices of the whole family, the father, the mother and perhaps even ligea itself. That makes these recordings even more fascinating.
Ligea was ringed as TJ 1592 and thus can be recognised worldwide. Now “she” is flying over the Atlantic sea, toward the western African coastline.
We thank Sara Riello (we discovered the nest due to her passion and perseverance), Ferdinando Corbi (that ringed Ligea), Carmen Biondo, Antonio Romano (Director) and the staff of the State Reserve of the islands of Ventotene and Santo Stefano.
Waiting for their return to the Mediterranean, all we can do is to wish “Fair winds” to Ligea and all the chicks born in 2019 on the Pontine islands.