Musings and photos of wild and everyday life

Posts tagged “Grey Seal

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


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.


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


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



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!


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



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




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