As I said in my previous post, to get to the Gannet place we have to first cross the Black-backed gull land. Great Black-backed gull is the largest of the gulls, and is described as a “merciless tyrant”. They can be fierce and aggressive at their nests, but I have no intention to bother them, and I know there are no chicks that early in the year. The gulls are perched on the rocks and become agitated as I get closer. Apparently they don’t understand the message I am sending them with my body language. One of them is trying to attack me. I keep walking and pretend I don’t hear, so he finally leaves me alone and returns to his rock. I turn around and take a picture 🙂 Then I hurry away.
Just before the Cat Cliff comes into sight, I see another Black-backed gull with a tiny crab in its bill.
Finally I reach the Cat Cliff. This place always makes me emotional and fills me with reverence for the mystery of life. Beautiful big birds are so vulnerable here keeping the eggs warm, protecting the young.
While climbing down the cliff, I have to pass by a clan of European Shags whose matriarch is an ill-tempered bird that starts hissing way before I come close. This year her young and very shy son finally has his own family. Now there are three nests altogether. I didn’t want to bother the hissing mama and the shy lad, and took a few pictures of the third Shag with two chicks and a Razorbill in background. Shag looks similar to Cormorant, but they are two different birds, easily distinguished from each other: Shag is smaller and has emerald green eyes and green sheen on the feathers. Also the European Shag’s tail has 12 feathers and the Great Cormorant’s 14 feathers. European Shag chicks hatch over a two day interval – it is why one chick looks much bigger than the other.
These two Gannets are familiar to me. Their nests are perched at the very edge of the cliff so I always have to pass by them.
I make myself comfortable on a big flat rock, and when the Gannets take off and land I feel like on Maho beach 😉
This is not a fight, but an act of affection 🙂
A perfect bird.
Watching gannet landings, I forget about time.
I would sit on that rock and admire the gannets until dark, but it is time to start moving as the boat is back in an hour.
I safely pass the Black-backs territory and stop at the highest point to enjoy the beautiful view. You can see the Little Saltee in background.
I walk through the carpets of blue and white.
And of course, Sea Pink.
Oystercatcher’s loud, panicked voice calls me back from my daydreams.
I take one last glance around. This is the Makestone, the largest islet at the southern side of the Great Saltee.
Little Saltee looks close when zoomed out. In fact, the channel between the islands is about a mile wide and 30 f deep.
At this time of the year, puffins spend most of their time at sea. I have only seen four puffins during this trip. They will return later, after we leave the island. I am glad they are safe here.
An Crosan – The Razorbill – will take us back to Kilmore Quay. Two seals bathing in shallow waters are not afraid of Cap’n Declan and his dinghy.
Thank you for visiting, exploring and discovering all things beautiful. Hope you put Saltee Islands in your itinerary for next June.
Have a wonderful week!