Friday, 22 February 2013

A bray on the cliff is worth 2 on the sea.

My first view of the island as I came over the fife hills in the early morning light.

It is not a big territory for each pair but the best ledges are in great demand.

Guillemots pouring off greenface as we go past.

I dare not mention the spring word yet but things are definitely starting to happen out on the May. There is a buzz of activity with contractors and researchers of all sorts heading out on Monday with me tagging along. It was an early start leaving Anstruther before 0900 on a beautiful morning and we headed out over a flattish (for this time of year) sea through a light haze to the shadow on the horizon. As we got nearer the cliffs we could see white dots against the black rain washed cliffs. And then the white dots started tumbling off the cliffs and then we could see, and hear that the guillemots were back on the cliffs again. During the winter they don't completelydisappear like the puffins do but stay closer and in synchronise movements come back en masse onto the cliffs to stake a claim on a nesting ledge. They seems to come in before first light  and for not long after the cliffs are full but as the morning goes on they head back out to sea to feed. It seems so long since we last heard, back last July,  the guillemots braying, and the cliffs have been so quiet all winter. It may not be a beautiful sound but the first guilli bray of the season can't help but bring on a smile and is as welcome as the first call of the cuckoo or song of the willow warbler.

The end of a glorious day on the May.

Peregrine enjoys some rare late afternoon sun

Once we were on the island there was much to do, one contractor was assessing the waterlogged and wrecked footpaths and helping to draw up an improvement plan, others were out to help try to fix a troublesome problem we have with the power unit, others were there source stone for future building works and the final group continued their work on the Lowlight. It was a bit like rush hour with workmen buzzing around. In amongst them were some of the shag researchers getting winter resightings of colour ringed birds.
We found a few more shag carcasses, part of the high winter mortality suffered by these birds this winter and we wonder what the fast approaching breeding season will be like. Will the shags continue to increase their Isle of May population or will it be knocked back this year. We will just have to wait and see. 

No comments:

Post a comment