Tuesday, 2 July 2013

An Interesting (Royal) Day

A stunner of a moth from the moth trap.
An early start to an interesting day. Coffee first of course but then checked the moth trap which has been capturing some beauties and then onto cleaning the toilets and the visitor centre for our special visitor.
Today the Crown Prince of Dubai visited the island and as he is the heir to one of the richest families in the world then this was a bit of a big deal. This was a fairly sudden event as these things go and it only took a couple of days to organise and then the Scottish Seabird Centre catamaran was turning up in Kirkhaven with an other Seabird centre RIB buzzing around apparently for security. It was only when the Crown Prince landed with his party of 11 that it became apparent what they had really come for. They were hunters....wanting to hunt puffin... with lenses. Some of the biggest camera equipment I have ever seen was then pulled out of bags and we set off across the island looking for puffins carrying fish. The first few were about 100yrds away but they were quickly bagged and as we worked our way up to the South Plateau we got closer to more and more puffins. Luckily it was a spectacular day for their quarry with the sky and island speckled with the birds.

The Crown Prince arrives.

Capturing puffins with a lens.
The Crown Prince certainly keen and in the end spent 2 hours working his way round the south of the island snapping many pictures with many cameras. I quickly realised that he wasn't keen to hear about the ecology of the seabirds so chatted with some of the others in the group about hunting with saker falcons, salukis and what puffins tasted like (I have tried it by the way). As the Crown Prince headed off back across the Firth to Bass Rock i was left wondering what he made of us with our bird stained clothes, cavalier washing habits and strange bird obsessions.
But i didn't have time to wonder for long as not long after the May Princess and the RIB Osprey came in with another 110 visitors for the day and these people required my attention.
After the boat had gone it was time to help my daughter who is staying on the island and her friend to cook tea for the 15 island residents (not a bad feast from a couple of 14 year olds).
And then this evening we were puffin netting. The nets were set up at a point where 2 puffin wheels were formed so as we sat on the rocks were in a stream of puffins which were dividing right in front of us, half going north and half going south .What better way to end an very interesting day to sit on the rim of the North Sea with a bunch of friends sampling the chilly magic of doing field work amongst a mass of seabirds,  as the sunset behind us. This type if thing is priceless and can't be bought for all the money in the world.
A big sprat brouhgt in by a puffin - that will help to grow a chick.

The scrable for puffin fish dropped in the grass when the puffin gets caught in the net.

Being taken out of the net.

On the rim of the North Sea

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