Golden faces, silver eyes and blue eyelids.

saltees

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.

Saltee islands

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.

gannet colony

gannet colony

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

gannet

gannet

Gannet with a bunch of seaweed to furnish the nest.

gannet

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.

gannet

The young chick reaches deep into its parent’s throat for its meal of partially digested fish.

gannet

The parent birds take turns warming the eggs and protecting the chicks.

gannet

The gannets are very vocal:)

gannet

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.

gannet

gannet

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:)

gannet

Clumsy on take-offs and landings the gannets are powerful fliers with an impressive wing span.

gannet

gannet

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.

herring gull

This is a Fulmar.

Fulmar

These are the  Blackback gull chicks.

great blackback gull chick

great blackback gull chicks

This angry bird is a Shag. Shags breed colonially between the rocks and in sea caves.

shag

shag

This is the island owners’ house. We were heading to the shelter to hide from the rain and wait for our boat.

saltees

The ferrying boat could not come closer, so we had to  be carried over there by an inflatable boat.

saltees

Little and Great Saltee islands on the horizon.  It was one of the most memorable trips in my life.

saltees

saltees

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.

inesemjphotographyHave a great week!

 

105 comments

  1. Great stuff, love it.
    Took me back a few years to when I visited the Isle of May, a small island in the mouth of the Firth of Forth, which is a Puffin sanctuary.
    Nature in the raw.

  2. I really was spellbound by how close you got to these unique birds. I loved the gannets, the photo of the gannet with a reflection in his eye, of you taking its picture. Wow!
    The baby gulls were so sweet, along with the black back nestlings. Being named a ‘bird’ I have paid attention to the flying creatures and love birds.

  3. A paradise made of cotton, I remember quite well these Irish landscapes when you published before, thanks for the memories, Ireland is one of the places I’d love to travel ^_^

    1. Thank you! You know, this island was populated some hundred years ago – there was even a church. Times are changing, as are the landscapes. 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on inesemjphotography and commented:

    And this is another old post from my last year’s trip to Saltee Island. It is a beautiful place, a haven for those looking to escape the big city for a day, for the birdwatchers and photographers. Hope you enjoy this post and the trip to the Gannet kingdom.

    1. Oh thank you, I am so glad you like the birds. Aren’t they amazing? I have never seen gannets before, except in the books. They let people come so close… It is why their chicks get killed by ignorant barbarians. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      1. They are amazing. There is a gannet colony not far from where I live; on a tiny almost-island that’s sheer rock. It’s inaccessible to humans but close enough to the mainland to watch the birds. Ideal really. 🙂

  5. Absolutely Breathtaking! They absolutely all took me right there with you! Especially the EYE… I am so glad I can follow your unbelievable photos and journeys!
    Thank you for your interest in my blog as well! Heart to Heart Robyn

    1. Thank you for this very kind comment Robyn!:) The place is actually an hour and half drive from where I live. Lucky me:)
      Thank you again! Hope you have a wonderful week!
      Inese

  6. What a beautiful post and excellent photography. So inspiring. If I did not have what I do on my plate currently how I would love to just go off into similar ventures and just follow my heart with photography. Lovely work

    1. Thank you for your kind words. That was a one-day trip, and only one hour and half drive for me. I made two posts: this one and the previous one, about the puffins, so you can check it out too. Thank you again!
      Inese

    1. Thank you! 🙂 No I didn’t have a chance and I don’t know if they are nesting around here. I have to do some research. Huge birds, I wouldn’t miss one if I see it:)

    1. Thank you! I would stay there longer and see more but the rain was getting stronger so we had to call the captain to pick us up two hours earlier…

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