Our Camera Club had an outing to Great Saltee island for bird photography. Before the trip I did a research as I always do, which helps me not miss anything important and regret it afterwards. There is a website with beautiful photographs where you can learn more about the owners of the Islands. I don’t know if anybody ever met them when visiting Great Saltee, but I am sure they are wonderful and hospitable people. They have a shelter behind their home: a kitchen packed with bottled water and basic utensils for those who might get stuck on the island because of the weather, and two beds upstairs. We used the shelter while waiting for the boat to pick us up: the rain shortened our visit by two hours…
If you plan this trip you might find useful the Trip Advisor comments and Captain Declan Bates’ telephone number to arrange the boat and ask your questions: 353-53 9129684, mobile: 353-87 529 736. The boat leaves from Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford. Late May – mid June would be the best time for the trip.
I found this 1837 report about the Saltees; was surprised to learn that the islands were populated in the past. There even used to be a church on Great Saltee, but now the island is a home to thousands of sea birds. I have never been so close to any bird except may be some ducks, and this closeness to the beautiful, gracious creatures filled me with sense of awe and reverence.
Some of the birds are nesting on the side of the path. Great Saltee is a busy place, sometimes about a hundred people are wandering around the island all the day, and having a nest on the side of the path sounds like a strange choice. But it is their island, their nesting ground, and they can do as they like. We are their guests and we are the ones who have to respect their rules. Earlier this week I had two conversations and one argument about the same subject: tourists/ immigrants/ temporary residents and their behavior in a foreign country. Here is my opinion: 1. If people are rude, stupid, arrogant, selfish, irresponsible, annoying while abroad, you bet they are the same at home. 2. Before judging the locals and their ways remember that you can leave when you please but they will have to stay and keep that country going as did their ancestors. You are not the one to teach them how to, and you would only benefit if you learn something from them 3. They might don’t like you. You can sometimes complain if you are not happy, it is OK, but don’t be a fool, don’t do it on Facebook or any social media! And never over-generalize and call a whole nation names.
So, this is what I was thinking about as I watched a colony of Gannets as they go about their routine. 200 species of birds have been recorded on Saltees, most of them migratory. Many species are nesting there, and I took pictures of some.
I have got many nice shots, so I though I could make two posts instead of one. I leave the Gannets for my Tuesday post.
I will start with the Razorbills, the first birds I saw as we walked towards the cliffs. The smaller, brownish birds in the pictures are Common guillemots.
Puffins. My dreams fulfilled! I was dreaming to see a puffin since I was a child. When I saw my first puffin from the boat my heart skipped a beat. Neat little fellas with comical faces and clumsy manner of flying mate for life and dig a burrow where they return every year to raise a chick. They feel more comfortable in the water; flying isn’t their forte. Probably it is why they take as much fish as they can hold.
A Fulmar photobombing:)
To be continued.
Photography tip of the day: Taking pictures of birds be patient, focus on the eye, use the fastest shutter speed you can ( you might want to increase ISO) or use “Sport” setting.