It started raining. Creeping from one rock to another I was finally done with photographing the puffins willing to pose.
I looked around and saw that my peeps took off and started to disappear one by one in the sea of ferns. So I hurried after them.
Our next destination was Gannet Headland, a nesting ground for the Northern gannets. You cannot see the place before you climb up to the highest point of the island through the high ferns and then walk down to the rugged cliffs. Then you just stop there, speechless.
The gannet is Europe’s largest sea bird with a wingspan up to 2 metres. The adults are white and the young birds are very dark brown. It takes 5 years for them to reach maturity and start breeding. They say there are two thousand couples nesting there on the island. The gannets make their nests from seaweeds, feathers and human made materials found in the water.
Gannet with a bunch of seaweed to furnish the nest.
Gannets hunt fish by plunge-diving from a remarkable height into the sea and then using their wings and feet to swim deeper. After returning from the sea they have this gentle ritual of affection with the other partner, preening and touching the bills.
The young chick reaches deep into its parent’s throat for its meal of partially digested fish.
The parent birds take turns warming the eggs and protecting the chicks.
The gannets are very vocal:)
As you can see, there are some couples with very young chicks, naked and helpless, and some with the older ones, covered with soft white down.
Gannets have very interesting features. For example, they have no external nostrils: they are located inside the mouth. Their eyes are positioned slightly up to the front which gives them a better view.
There is my reflection in the gannet’s eye:)
Clumsy on take-offs and landings the gannets are powerful fliers with an impressive wing span.
Now I want to share something sad. Please read this article…
Gold-faced, silver-eyed, gracious birds… Isn’t there anything else to eat in this century?
There are also other species of birds on the island. This is a Herring gull in its flight.
This is a Fulmar.
These are the Blackback gull chicks.
This angry bird is a Shag. Shags breed colonially between the rocks and in sea caves.
This is the island owners’ house. We were heading to the shelter to hide from the rain and wait for our boat.
The ferrying boat could not come closer, so we had to be carried over there by an inflatable boat.
Little and Great Saltee islands on the horizon. It was one of the most memorable trips in my life.
I hope you enjoyed this trip with me. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger. They are all resized for the web with resolution 72, so you won’t have problems opening them. Same for the previous post about the Puffins.
Photography tip of the day: When you are going to take pictures of sea birds, not having a telephoto shouldn’t stop you – the birds let you come close enough. These pictures were taken with a 70-200, but you can bring any lens you have. The settings matter, as I wrote in the previous post, and your vision matters. I wanted to get dreamy, a little bit grainy pictures with blurred background. Also watch your white colors. It is important to see the details on the white feathers, otherwise they look like burnt-out spots.