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Great Journeys

While many people go on long journeys regularly, this little island allows only modest trips, at least by road, and people mostly only experience really long journeys on rare or ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday.

Herds of Wildebeest running in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Many animals however, travel for thousands of miles to their winter migration escape of choice and repeat the journey to return, many months later.

Wildebeest are one of the best known of the long-distance travellers.

They feed on the great Serengeti plains after the rains in November. Calves are born usually in February after which they spread west until in April they start the massive annual push north, seeking fresh pastures and drinking water.

Moving north across a wide area, river crossings slow them and huge numbers build up. Many become food for the crocs but the huge herd moves on. The Mara river in the northern Serengeti is a big challenge, well filmed, usually in September. Not long after crossing this, the Wildebeest start to recross it as they start the reverse migration bringing them back to the southern Serengeti for November, once more.

Humpback Whale Fin Slapping, Cape Cod

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Whales are also notable migrators, and certainly the largest.

They migrate up to 9,400 miles from cold Polar waters to warmer Tropical seas and back again (a total of up to 18,800 miles!).

The reason for this was considered to be that warm waters were good for breeding and avoiding predators such as Killer Whales (actually more related to Dolphins), while cold waters held more food.

Barn Swallow on aerial, Co. Wicklow

Recent studies suggest that Whales migrate to molt. It was known that microbes build up in the skin and that Whales, like us, shed cells continuously. The new tracking study is convinced that migration is to allow whales to molt in warmer waters, since in cold waters, they divert blood from the skin surface which causes a slowdown in cell regeneration.

In any case, these massive creatures are serious travellers and can be found in most seas of the world.

(See previous post – https://cliffsview.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/monsters-of-the-deep/)

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Swallows are probably the most widely known migration experts. We await their arrival every summer and watch the wires and aerials bend with their numbers as they get itchy to return to warmer countries in Autumn.

Swallows (and a few types of Martin) start to arrive in Ireland from Africa in April and most have started breeding by June. They tend to nest close to people in open sheds, lean-to structures etc. The main requirements though, are water, mud and an insect supply!

They often have 2 or even 3 broods during the summer and then by September, are beginning to itch for a return to warmer climates. Some late leavers wait until October. Amazingly young migrate and seem to have some built in sense and markers as well as a magnetic compass to guide them.

Many birds fatten up before migrating but Swallows feed on the wing – catching insects in mid-air – and so don’t have to burden themselves with the extra weight.

They travel around 200 miles per day, resting at night in large flocks at their favourite stopover sites. Swallows from different locations migrate by different routes and to different destinations. Most of those leaving Ireland fly all the way down over south-western Europe, Morocco, the Sahara desert and Namibia to South Africa!

Swallows can travel 6000 miles on migration and the same distance on return. Not bad for such tiny, fragile looking birds.

Whooper Swans in snow field Co. Wicklow

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Whooper Swans arrive in the fields surrounding my home in Wicklow, every winter. They feed on the grass during the day and retire to a nearby lake at night for some safety. (see previous post – https://cliffsview.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/winter-woolies-and-whoopers/ )

Their yellow beaks distinguish them from the otherwise similar, Mute Swans, common to lakes around the world. At around 10 Kgs and a wingspan of over 2m, they are big birds and when they fly it is hard not to think of Jumbo Jets and wonder how! 🙂

Most Irish Whoopers arrive from Iceland, flying up to 900 miles (1400 Kms), considered to be the longest sea crossing by a Swan species.

A very small number now stay in Ireland for the summer and breeding pairs have been recorded in Northern Ireland. They pair for life.

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Common Tern diving for Fish, Co. Galway

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Lots of animal & bird species migrate. In Ireland we think of Ducks, Geese, Starlings, Redwing and even Sparrows. But let’s finish with our most travelled visitor, the Tern.

We have 5 different Tern species in Ireland (though there are many more world-wide). They are all seen only in summer.

The Common Tern actually is the most common. But the Arctic Tern is the record holder for migration. It has a completely red beak, unlike the beak of the Commom Tern which has a black tip.

The Arctic Tern flies from its breeding grounds in the Arctic, to the Antarctic, spending the southern summer there before returning. The shortest journey possible for these locations is 12,000 miles (19,000 Kms). So the return journey is at least 24,000 miles for a bird of only 14 inches (36cms) in length!

It is reckoned that the Arctic Tern sees more daylight per year than any other species.

So next time you are asked to collect your son or granddaughter or father or whoever at the station, please remember the remarkable Arctic Tern or any other of our fabulous travelling heroes.

The Young Ones

Great Tit juvs on Nut feeder BG xs 0974One positive aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have been increased freedom, activity and production amongst the wildlife, presumably because of less interference during lock-downs.  Of course we probably noticed nature more as well.

In our garden, quite a few nests and young birds were produced. This included quite a few Great Tits, paler and duller than their parents.  They are still dominating our feeders.

Robin juv on branch Blessington xxs 3628

Every year we have baby robins.  This one is more like a teenager, beginning to develop a red chest.

 

Starling chick looking out of Nest Box FG xxs 0379Our tired-looking Starling box produced 2 broods again.

davThe Blackbirds had a rough time.  Sparrowhawks seem to have been at least part of the problem.  One nest was abandoned when the male was killed and a second nest which we think was by the same female with a different partner, only managed to produce one fledgling before the nest was ransacked by an unknown creature.  Still quite a few young blackbirds are running around the gardens, so some nests must have had more success.

House Sparrow juv on branch BG xs 3607

House Sparrows were supposed to be declining but not around here! A clatter of babies make a right din in the bushes and on the feeders.  This one shows its soft, expandable skin that allows the beak to open wide for feeding. One pair of Sparrows successfully fledged healthy young ‘uns in our camera nest-box, designed for Tits.  And they managed to block the camera with a scrappy grassy nest, so we couldn’t even see inside!

Chaffinch juv BG xxs 1044

Chaffinches tend to feed in the garden by looking for scraps under the feeders.  The juvenile above, paler than the female adults, learnt to do the same.

Great Spotted Woodpecker juv on nut feeder BG xxs 0949

The big excitement for us this year was the appearances of a male adult great-spotted Woodpecker on the nut feeder.  Excitement reached a new level when a juvenile, complete with red head, appeared later on.  The expansion of these beautiful birds in Ireland continues 🙂

Wren chick in bushes at FG wall xs 0439

Baby Wren being stubborn!

Many other young birds brightened the gardens including Blue Tits, Rooks, Jackdaws, Goldfinch and more but the highlight for me was a family of wrens. One parent seemed to be in charge of 5 little divils that followed in the bushes but were always straggling, as the parent called to cajole them on.

 

 

Tenerife

Boat passing Sunset between La Frontera & Gomera islands from Fanabe Beach Costa Adeje Tenerife tri xs 9194.jpg

There are many places with more wildlife than Tenerife but with the current restrictions due to the CV-19 Virus, I thought it might cheer us all up to think about somewhere warm and inviting!

And there are many birds and animals here although I confess that we were there for a short sunny holiday late last year 🙂   So the birds and animals in this post are those found easily – without using binoculars or spending hours in a hide.  Also we were only on the West coast of the island.Red Rock Crab Grapsus adscensionis at edge of water on wave splashed rocks W Tenerife xs 9164

If you walk around the shore you are almost certain to see many Red Rock Crabs.  They are quite large and very colourful.  This one, like most, was at the edge of the rocks waiting for the next wave to wash over him bringing tit-bits of food. Turnstone bathing in pool La Caleta Tenerife xxs 9286

There are a number of birds that can be seen elsewhere including waders like this Turnstone bathing in a pool on the rocks.Short-finned Pilot Whale off W Tenerife from rib xs 8927

As an island off Africa, a boat trip is essential.  I thoroughly recommend WWT – Whale Watch Tenerife. They have a fast rib with few passengers and are very knowledgeable and keen and care about the animals.  There is a very good chance of seeing Short-finned Pilot Whales as the W coast of Tenerife is a favoured haunt.  Dolphins, Sharks and Baleen Whales are also regularly seen.Corys Shearwater in swell off W Tenerife coast from rib xs 8813

While enthralled by Dolphins and Whales, keep one eye open for birds.  This is a Cory’s Shearwater which is quite common.  It flies beautifully but looks a bit awkward in the water or on land – one landed on the path at our feet one evening!Flathead Grey Mullet Mugil cephalus in Puerto Deportivo Los Gigantes Tenerife xs 8724

Many of the harbours have large numbers of Flathead Grey Mullet swimming around the boats and shadows.Southern Tenerife Lizard Gallotia galloti galloti on rocks near La Caleta Tenerife xs 8738Quite a few of the birds and animals are either species or subspecies endemic to the island or region.  This is the Southern Tenerife Lizard (Gallotia galloti galloti) sun-bathing on the rocks along the coast.Yellow-legged Gull atlantis ssp Acantilados de Los Gigantes Tenerife xs 8733

Finally, there are nearly always Gulls.  This is the Yellow-legged Gull, subspecies atlantis, found on Atlantic islands.

Stay safe.

 

Dublin – Looking Up

Sunrise over Guiness factory Bottle Tower & bridge from Heuston Luas bridge s 1827Climbing Sculpture on Wall Grand Canal Dublin xs 1958Its all too easy while walking or driving to keep your head down, eyes scanning for possible collisions, mind thinking of all sorts of things – troubles, dinner, family or just nothing.  So perhaps its not surprising that we see so little of what is in plain view.

While on holidays, it is not as bad.  Generally we are more relaxed and more open to seeing new things, exploring the surroundings.

However looking up is not too common, even on holidays.  A shame as skies, architecture, spires, birds and so much more can be missed.  Here I want to highlight some of the things that are easily missed by not actively looking, especially up, in Dublin.

The sky above is glowing red/orange after sunset.  But look at the array of chimneys, Guinness silos, the Bottle Tower and the Church steeple, silhouetted against the sky.  They are all interesting in their own way.

Ceilings are also often interesting – see 2014 post Ceilings https://cliffsview.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/ceilings/

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s easy to miss the climber sculpture  on the Treasury Building, Grand Canal St. Lower.

Chimneys Merrion St Dublin rs 0727

Statue & Copper Dome Custom House Dublin s 3611Merrion Square is famous for its Georgian buildings with windows that get smaller towards the roof  to emphasise height.  But look at the battery of chimneys !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what about the Customs House?

The Copper Dome is a well known feature (although it is high up, it is very large and green) but have you noticed the dodgy looking statue on the top?

Justice Statue on Cork Hill gate Dublin Castle 6193xLsThis apparently is a figure of Commerce and includes an anchor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider also the Justice Statue on the Gate to Dublin Castle at Cork Hill ?

She wields a heavy sword, balanced by a delicate scales!  Hmmmm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The huge red-bricked building enclosing Georges St. Arcade is a familiar site.  However at ground level it is a bit dreary.  Old premises are only beginning to be renewed and some remain empty.

Looking up reveals a great building with a fabulous roof-line complete with turrets, balustrade, attic windows and large elaborate chimneys. This is one of the special buildings in Dublin.Georges St Arcade & Fade St Dublin xs 1783

Roof skyline NIB & The Bank Dame St Dublin s 2408dav

 

 

 

 

Dame Street and College Green contain a good number of interesting buildings.  Once again though, the roof-line is often overlooked.

This is a great pity as a variety of intricate architectural features and designs are to be found way above street level.

The Roof Windows and lovely chimney with wind vane are on the old Hibernian Bank, now a H&M shop, while the Copper cone is on the red-bricked Bank Restaurant which used to be the Royal Bank of Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably this grand old tall chimney wouldn’t be missed if it was on a main street.  Tucked in the back of Heytesbury St. is is less obvious but an interesting throwback.

It is octagonal, made of yellow and red bricks and was originally connected to the boilers in the old Meath Hospital.

Lion & Unicorn Bank of Ireland College Green Dublin s 6213

 

Looking up at the Bank of Ireland in College Green reveals one of the old empire symbols  – the Lion and the Unicorn.  These are heraldic elements and appear on the coat of arms of the United Kingdom.

The figures are still looking in good shape though I don’t think the same could currently be said of  the UK!Customs House Lion & Unicorn s 137_3726

The same animals in a different pose appear above the Custom House on Custom House Quay along the Liffey.  This time they look up to a Harp with a crown atop!  This is not the Coat of Arms of King George III  but that of the Kingdom of Ireland!Roof edging on building on Lincoln Place Dublin s 6228

Decorative edging tiles under the roof of buildings on Lincoln Place.Flying Buttresses Christ Church Cathedral Dublin s 6170

Christ Church Cathedral contains a myriad of interesting details at street level as well as internally and even below ground (including a 58 metre long crypt).  But still some some glances upwards are well rewarded.  As well as some serious flying buttresses, there are cross finials, carved limestone parapets and octagonal tapering towers with windows.

Lord Edward St & down to Dame St Dublin xs 4516Finally a picture of Lord Edward Street looking down to Dame Street.  Not to suggest that street level should be ignored in any way – Dublin has so much of interest in our old and some of our new buildings and features – but there is often so much of interest just a tilt of the neck away 🙂

 

 

Blessington Basin

Hooded Merganser M & Mandarin Duck F in Blessington Basin x 7319

Hooded Merganser drake and Mandarin duck

It’s always great to have wild places in cities. This one is a super water oasis in the middle of Dublin.  The ‘Blessington’ in the name comes not from the town in Wicklow but from Blessington Street, in Dublin.  It is reached on one side from a linear park that used to be a canal, through a small gate in the surrounding stone wall.

This gives rise to its other name as ‘Secret Garden’.The Lodge cottage 1811 Blessington Basin Dublin rc 9904 At the other end is a more salubrious entrance, gate and lodge, dating from 1811. 

The ‘Basin’ itself is a fairly simple, rectangular tank with vertical walls and an island at its centre.  This was originally built in 1810 as a water reservoir  (The Royal George Reservoir) for Dubliners and was used by a number of whiskey makers into the 1970s. Restoration in the 1990s cleaned it up and it is now well visited by people and wildlife.

Feral Pigeon head Blessington Basin Dublin x 7313Visiting from the secret end, the first wildlife encounter may well be a pigeon.  Feral pigeons know how to find feeding spots and this is a good one with some very regular patrons.  They will line up on railings and take off together at the slightest hint of danger or new food, with an alarming beat of wings.

Wood Duck M Blessington Basin Dublin x 7364However the Basin often holds some surprising bird-life such as the Hooded Merganser drake and Mandarin duck in the top picture and the Wood duck above.

These are normally found in North America but have presumably found their way here after being discarded by collectors.

Sparrowhawk imm in tree on island Blessington Basin Dublin x 7334

Immature Sparrowhawk in tree on the island

Keep an eye out for birds of prey – where there are birds feeding, predators lurk.

For me the star of this show was the male Hooded Merganser which just looks so proud and ‘kingly’, somehow beyond normal reality. 

And that’s just what’s so fantastic about the Basin – it is a common haunt of locals and aficionados while at the same time an incredible revelation, haven and uplifting surprise for newbies.

Hooded merganser Blessington Basin Dublin x 7342

Trinity Trees Tragedy

Oregon Maple tree & front square Trinity College Dublin 2036x

One of the fabulous Oregon Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees of Library Square Trinity College Dublin.  This was subject of a post in 2010:

https://cliffsview.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/review-2010-may

and the picture was subsequently used in an article by the Dublin Institute of Technology on the value of trees in the city; as well as on the front cover of the brochure for Environ 2014 – a conference on Environmental Challenges and Solutions held in Trinity in partnership with the ESAI.

Anyway that is all a bit beside the point which is that these were magical trees, tall with a wide spread.  The picture is nothing compared to being near them.  They were grand, had knurled, ancient, knobbly trunks and the sheer dominance of the trees, especially in Summer when the large leaves were in full glow, was inspiring.  And their value to the city was great from their visual appeal and stress reduction capabilities to their Ozone and CO2 reducing abilities and Oxygen provision.  It has also been shown that they reduce exhaust fumes particulates.

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However this is the current view of Library Square from the Trinity Rubrics.

Only a couple of years ago we toasted our College education, decades before, in a marquee underneath the shade of these fabulous specimens. Trinity ball annually has a marquee there. The trees were checked recently for health and risk assessment. But soon after a very large branch of one crashed to the ground. Happily there were no human casualties but a reassessment found that the trees were rotting inside and they were taken down for safety.

IMG_20180829_085339-2Of course there are many more fine trees in Trinity but these were special. Firstly they were magnificent, secondly they were very old – reckoned to have watched over Trinity students for about 175 years. What history and people and events must have happened here, within bough shot!

I will miss them. Thousands will. But so many more will never know what they missed.  Let’s hope that they are replaced with trees of substance and character.

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Snowed-in – New Neighbours

Have you ever walked through a marshy area and been shocked by a sudden explosion of feathers at your feet, which then disappeared off at full speed with a zig-zag flight? This is the culprit but I didn’t think we’d ever see one in our back garden!

Snipe walking in snow BG xs 7548.jpg

Snipe walking in back garden

In fact we have 2 Snipe – a brace.  They have discovered that amongst the acres and acres of deep snow around here, there is one spot where the the snow is thin enough for their long beaks to reach into the soil – our old trampoline!

Snipe foraging in snow under Trampoline BG xs 7466.jpg

Snipe foraging under trampoline

There are a lot more birds in the garden than usual, drawn by the need to find food and by our feeders and seed strewn-steps etc. Today we had a Pied Wagtail our our doorstep.

It all looks cute and is great for close views of birds we seldom see close up but many birds will die during this spell. Indeed many people will suffer with some main and most side roads closed.

So be safe and help your neighbours – feathered and otherwise 🙂

Crows

Jackdaw on fence Dublkin Zoo xs 8947.jpgSome of the commonest and noisiest birds are in the crow family.

Found in most regions of the world they tend to be medium to large sized, intelligent, mainly blackish in colour and relatively brave around people.

Here in Ireland, the Jackdaw is one of the most visible members of the family which numbers approximately 40. Its white eye ring and mixture of black and grey feathers making  it easily identifiable.

Rook portrait BG 5125xLsRaven on ruins above Miners Village Glendalough xs 7243
Hooded Crow St Stephens Green pond Dublin 0005xs
Slightly bigger are the Rooks which often mingle with Jackdaws.

They are much tougher looking and have a strong beak with a whitish patch at the base. They also show a dark blue tint when the sun shines.

They make untidy large nests in colonies known as rookeries, in the tops of trees in whereas the Jackdaws nest in holes, such as in trees or chimneys.

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The biggest of our crows is the Raven with a wingspan of up to 1.3m.  These are birds of higher ground, mostly scavenging on dead animals.

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The other typical Grey-Black crow we have is the Hooded Crow.  It is very similar to the Carrion Crow, found in England, which does not have any grey.

This is the main crow in many European continental countries.

Hooded Crow pairs nest on their own in tops of tall trees.
Magpie hunting on grass Merrion Square Dublin xs 5769
However, another common crow here is the Magpie – a really beautiful bird but with a bad reputation due to their success in towns and dominance over small birds.
Jay at feeding station Dodd Wood Keswick 6264xs
Reasonably common but not seen as much is the Jay which has much less black in its plumage.

It is predominantly Brown with patches of blue, black and white and is most often seen in woods, particularly Oak woods.Chough flying Great Saltee 4021xs
The final Irish Corvid is the least known but possibly the most interesting and certainly my favourite.   The Chough is similar in some ways to the Jackdaw but has red legs and beak.  Also the beak is thinner and down curved – designed for poking into the ground.

The best places to see these are along the South and West coasts. They will probably be noticed first by their unusual ‘chough’ calls.

That’s a reasonable number of ‘Crows’ for a little country.  In a blog to follow, some of the other crows will be highlighted.

Seville

Giralda Cathedral Seville rcxs 4352This is a really majestic, beautiful and fun city. The large complex Cathedral and magnificent Giralda tower in Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, together with so many other lovely buildings, could take most of your attention.  Archbishops Palace Seville rcxs 4347
These buildings include the Bishop’s Palace in the North of the Plaza

Real Alcazar Gardens from viewing alll end rcs 4889

Reales Alcazares walled gardens

and the Royal Palaces, Reales Alcazares, to the South.

But Seville has much more and demands more time.  It is not a place to be rushed and only a hint of Seville’s treasures can be shown here.

Plaza de Espana towards N tower Seville rs 4681

Plaza de Espana looking towards North Tower

Plaza de Espana Seville at night rcs 4949Further South still and nearer to the river, you’ll be flabbergasted by Plaza de Espana, stunning at night as much as by day!

Gold Tower with Seville Tower behind rcs 4663And speaking of the river, a walk along the Guadalquivir is very relaxing with rowers and wildlife as well as other jewels including the Golden Tower and the Bull Ring, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.

Rowing under Triana or Isabel II bridge & Capilla Virgen del Carmen rcs 4661

Rowing under Triana or Isabel II bridge & Capilla Virgen del Carmen

It is hard not to see interesting buildings and the bridges are great in their own right.

Fountain & Ducks Maria Luisa Park Seville rcs 4463Beside Plaza de Espana, Maria Luisa Park is full of trees, ducks, water and offers some quiet and shade but it is very popular and busy.

Metropole & San Pedro church Seville rs 4610

Metropole & San Pedro church Seville

Finally check out a few of the many quirky churches – many along very narrow streets and the Metropole, a sort of modern art city canopy with awalkway and great views from the honeycomb-like roof.

3 tips –

  1. Spoonbill preening in Charco de la Boca lake El Rocio Spain rxs 8082

    Spoonbill preening in Charco de la Boca lake El Rocio

    It is a relatively short trip South to Donana National Park with Imperial Eagles, Peregrines, Azure-winged Magpies, Boar, Deer, Lizards and much more are to be seen or even shorter to Charco de la Boca lake at El Rocio where Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Egrets, Coot and many other birds thrive.

  2. Mercado de triana Seville rcs 4634

    Mercado de triana Seville

    This is a place that produces great food – enjoy.

  3. Seville Cathedral interior including ceiling organ & carvings rcss 4575Should the unthinkable happen and it rains, explore the interiors of Reales Alcatras and the Cathedral – even if not religious you will come away uplifted! 🙂

Saltees 2017

Gannet couple greeting & Bill clacking over egg in nest Great Saltee island xs 6158

Gannets Greeting in Great Saltee colony over Egg in Nest

Great Saltee Island off the SE coast of Ireland is the place to go in May or June – or most times of the year.

But in early Summer the flowers and birds are terrific.

It seems to have its own micro-climate and has been kind, weather-wise, to us on our yearly pilgrimages.

We spent 4 or 5 hours on the island but could have spent 4 or 5 days without doing it justice.

Puffin taking off from burrow side - disturbed before delivering Sandeels Great Saltee xs 5771

Puffin taking off from Burrow with undelivered fish after disturbance

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Pehthouse Suite - Kittiwakes & egg on nests Great Saltee cliffs xs 5538

Penthouse Suite – Kitiwakes nesting on cliff, Great Saltee

It is known best for its 2 Gannet colonies and for its Puffins but has so much more – birds such as Auks, Waders, Gulls, Cormorants, Choughs, Pipits etc. as well as Seals, Rabbits (inevitably), wild flowers and great views.

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Razorbill flying with Sandeels Great Saltee xs 5651

Razorbill flying with fish

Great Black-backed Chicks sheltering Great Saltee xs 6628

Baby Great-Black-backed Gulls in hiding – they will grow to become the marauding Lords of the island

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Great Black-backed Gull flying Great Saltee xs 5613

Great Black-backed Gull in full marauding flight

Shag & Chicks on nest under Rocks Great Saltee xs 6617

Shag & Chicks in nest under Rock

Grey Seal imm in Cave Great Saltee xs 6797

Grey Seal immature in cave, Great Saltee

Gannet collecting vegetation for nest on Great Saltee clifftop xs 5638

Gannet collecting vegetation for nest

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The Gannets number over 2,000 and try to nest away from interference – one colony on a rock stack and the other at the extreme end of the island.

However over-enthusiastic visitors and camera holders constantly get too close, pushing the colony back and causing unnecessary stress and disturbance.

Gannets build a small mound of earth and vegetation – grass, seaweed, etc. – with more vegetation on top.

Gannet patterns edge of main colony Great Saltee xs 5851

Gannet Nests with regular spacing

In such a crowded place, the Gannets are very regularly spaced.  This is not so much about privacy for couples or respect for neighbours but rather fear of agression and use of agression to keep a small gap!

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Gannets fighting in colony Great Saltee island xs 6446

Gannets fighting in colony

Fights do break out in the close noisy turmoil.

Gannet returning to nest in colony Great Saltee xs 6563

Gannet returning to nest in colony, Great Saltee

Gannets mostly look all the same to us but presumably they can see distinct differences and hear different calls. Nevertheless finding one’s mate in a large noisy colony can’t be easy and landing amongst defensive neighbours in wind has to be difficult.

Gannet stare in colony Great Saltee island xs 6039

Gannet head – with superior attitude

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A magnificent bird and beautifully designed for life on the sea and for diving into the water from a height.

Puffin calling from clifftop rock Great Saltee xs 5802Puffin calling from rock amongst Pinks on clifftop, Great Saltee

Puffin with Sandeels Great Saltee xs 5798
Puffin with Sandeels

 

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Hard to ignore the gorgeous, cute little Puffins though.

Puffin numbers go up and down yearly based mainly on the numbers of Sandeels available.

The last 2 years seem to have been fairly good but of course fish numbers worldwide are only fractions of 100 years ago due to over fishing, pollution, human interference and now, particularly plastics  – hard to imagine such a happy state for our seas now 😦

Puffin flying overhead Great Saltee xs 6781

Puffin flying in

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