Thursday, 17 June 2010

The quick and the dead.

On Sunday we had a trip to Lunga chartering a boat so we could stay there all day. It was star studded turn out with such luminaries as Shop Lady, Postie, F-stop, PS, Bowman's Bulldog and associated WAGS. The weather was pretty dire to start with and it wasn't looking good but we were in high spirits. The trip out there was fairly uneventful with a few Manx Shearwater spotted and not a sign of any Dolphins, Sharks or Whales anywhere.
As you can see we were still fairly well wrapped up on arrival and some of the party were happily waving us off and hoping we would have a safe landing!
One of the first birds that I saw as we approached Lunga was a Peregrine disappearing over the top - more about that later. With everyone safely ashore we set off to sample the delights of the island. We gave the Puffins a miss to start with and just had a wander about picking up plenty of Wrens, a couple of Buzzard and lots of Wheatear. A common Blue butterfly showed well in the brightening weather.
We headed off to the auk colony and found plenty of birds whizzing about along the way but a timely reminder of if you aren't quick, you'll end up dead! This was the only sighting of Rock Dove that we had!
A pair of Fulmars at the nest had a bit of company that they didn't appreciate...
...and the birds cruising the cliffs were a delight to photograph.
Quite a few of them were either curious of us or we'd found the sweet spot for them to hang in the air.
Another superb sighting of how tough it is to survive the bird colony life was witnessed as we watched this Great Black-backed Gull quartering the sea waiting for Puffins to come to the surface with their catch. The bird would dive in before they broke the surface...
...and give them a good shake to make them let the catch go - fantastic to watch.
It was difficult to find a pristine Guillemot but this one standing to attention was worth photographing.
Most of the birds were pretty grubby looking and packed tightly together on the cliffs. The noise is superb but the only thing you are missing is the smell. I don't think blogger is doing scratch and sniff yet!
video
The Razorbills were in much better condition and spread around the area but very approachable.
It was nice to see the yellow gape of these birds.
They would sit there grunting away to each other then flap their wings and then open the bill - excellent stuff.
Another short clip of the interactions of some Razorbill.
video
Another grisly find was this skeleton of what looks like a Fulmar - nothing is safe out here.
I did see one Great Skua at a distance but this Arctic Skua was patrolling round the auk colony the whole time we were there. It's enough to strike fear into the heart of any target species.
The bird would just cruise around until it saw a likely target and would hunt them down at speed.
As you wandered past the boulder strewn areas you would be greeted by a rasping honk and bill clattering as the Shags told you to keep your distance.
The jack-in-the-box effect was witnessed a few times as a head just appeared for a look around.
The Wheatears were on the attack constantly hunting down the flies to feed the youngsters. It looks like this one is trying to catch flies with it's feet!
I can't leave you with no Puffin shots so here we go. The flight shots were difficult as there were that many flying in at times you got distracted from your first target! This one is quite comical with the legs dangling.
It was interesting to see that quite a few Puffins were just nesting amongst the boulders in small caves. It's a different view of one if nothing else.
A fantastic day all in all and just remember there is only the quick and the dead!!

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