Puffin

Baby bird boom in Great Saltee, Part II

I have never seen a baby Puffin, or puffling¬† – my heart melts at the sound of this word! ūüôā It is unlikely that I will see one. Puffin fledglings leave their nests at night to escape the sharp eyes of predators. A tiny chick makes it down the cliff to the water and paddles out to sea, alone, to return in 2-3 years.

The cliffs are high and steep here in Great Saltee.

Most Puffins leave the island in mid July.

You only realise how small they are when you see one tucked for a nap.

These adult birds will winter in the ocean alone, hundreds of miles from the shore, and come back next spring to get reunited with their mates.

Kittiwake, a small cliff-nesting gull, has a fluffy chick. This is a great news – Kittiwakes are globally threatened.

Kittiwakes have three toes, whereas other gulls have four. Their legs are short which makes walking difficult. The same like puffins, kittiwakes spend most of their life in the Atlantic Ocean. They do not scavenge like other gulls, and feed on small fish and crustaceans. This doesn’t mean that a bird would dive from the cliff and catch a fish straight away. Unfortunately, food is scarce, and the birds have to fly many miles to find adequate amounts of food to sustain themselves and their chicks. This means they leave their nests unattended for long periods of time, and their eggs and chicks are preyed on by big gulls.

In the picture below – another kittiwake with a chick, and a couple of Fulmars.

Fulmars are not gulls. They are related to Albatrosses, fly on stiff wings and have tube-like nostrils. Being a curious bird, fulmars hover nearby and observe you with their obsidian eyes before drifting down the cliff.

This fulmar has a chick! I saw it for a moment but couldn’t get a picture. Fulmars reach sexual maturity after 8-10 years, and lay a single egg once a year. Their chicks defend themselves from predators projectile vomiting a foul smelling gastric oil.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the Shag colony ( three couples including the always angry matriarch) relocated to some other nesting place. Before I learned about it, I saw four Shags on the cliff, out of my reach. This beauty hiding behind the rock has the family resemblance.

It is unclear if the Rock doves have chicks at this time. This one looks too relaxed to be a provider for a family.

This is the last chick for today.

I don’t know if this bunny has a family, but it sure has a burrow in which it disappeared in a blink.

Grey seals will give birth in September-December. In the picture below there are three females and a male.

A very cute seal was looking at me with those puppy eyes of his for at least a minute. I wonder if people feed them or something.

I was sitting on the edge of the high cliff, eating my packed lunch when the seals came along. This seal was clearly aware of what I was doing. I hope people don’t throw any leftover food in the water.

“All people young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the islands, and leave them as they found them for the¬†unborn generations to come see and enjoy.”¬† ¬† –¬† Michael the First

“It was never my intention to make a profit from these islands.¬† Day visitors are welcome to come and enjoy at no cost.¬† Bird watchers will always remain welcome.”¬†¬†– Michael the First

This is the Saltees flag, with the stars representing Michael’s children. His second youngest son Paul died last year. He inherited his father’s adventurous spirit and continued to live life to the fullest after his cancer diagnosis.

This is what the Great Saltee island looks like from the shore (distance 5 km).

Thank you for joining me on my annual trip. In my next blog post, I will share some more pictures from Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford.

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

The Year of The Pig

It would be just another new year if we didn’t have Chinese Zodiac calendar ūüôā

The year of The Dog is fading away as the year of The Pig starts in February and marks the end of the Twelve years Cycle.

Was 2018 “a good dog” for you? What were some of the highlights?

Here I share some pictures taken in 2018. It was (and still is) a very challenging year, but I cannot tell it has been unlucky for me.

The year started with a lazy snowfall that continued into the end of February. Then a mighty storm hit the island – you can see all the pictures in my previous blog post.

The snow melted in the first few days in March.

I didn’t see much of St. Patrick’s Day parade this year, but I liked this actor and took some pictures.

Spraoi monsters looked completely out of place at the St. Patrick’s Parade. I don’t think it was a great idea to include them. Yet, I posted this picture for a reason since I want to tell you a few words about monsters.

I discovered¬†¬†Jean Lee’s World¬†¬†blog¬†in 2015. After reading one article, I went back through the archives and read almost everything. I was stunned. A quick check on Amazon showed no books. No books?! Later I learned that Jean Lee did work on a novel, but there were many obstacles she had to overcome – you can read her story as she tells it herself in her blog.¬†

In June this year, Jean Lee published the first book of the short fiction series Tales Of the River Vine. The other five books followed, introducing the characters of her first YA fantasy novel Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, Book 1, parts 1 Р2, available on Amazon. An intelligent, captivating, very well written book will take you and the courageous, strong-willed teenage heroine to the fae world of darkness, and, hopefully, back. I look forward to reading Book 2 in March 2019. I am so very happy for you, Friend! You did it! Your books are as wonderful and unique as everything else you do. 

Please visit Jean Lee’s¬†amazing blog, and read her books.¬†

 


The days went by. In the end of May I got my life back, but in a complicated form. The world is still beautiful, though.

A Chaffinch still sings his little heart out…

… and his cute lady looks pleased.

Puffin here is just being gorgeous.

In the end of July I returned to blogging, and visited a few more places.

I went to the Cunnigar. I didn’t do the crossing, just walked to the end and back, watched the birds and insects. Usually I see one heron at a time, but there were seven. They took off when I came closer.

This scared fledgling was sitting in the middle of the boggy area on the Anne River trail. Hope his parents came to his rescue before a predator got there first.

I also went to the Comeraghs. Taking pictures of sheep never seems boring.

Then I came across a lone black pig. I later learned that this is her daily walking route.

Finally, there was a long flight, and many different birds and animals.

I guess my life was spared once again. We landed in Dublin in the eye of the storm Ali to learn that some 80 flights have already been cancelled or diverted, and a RyanAir plane had been forced to abort landing. Only two hero crews – Philadelphia and our JFK – landed their planes that morning. The landing was a nightmare, but it was performed splendidly regardless of violent swaying. The plane was still rocking and shaking in the gusts when we finally approached the terminal, and the passengers were instructed to watch their foot when stepping onto the jet bridge, as it might get detached. Two days later, a delivery man handed me my luggage and said ‘You guys are lucky to be alive’.

And then came the Autumn. It went through the different stages, until it was safe to call it Winter.


The young year of The Pig begins with hopes and dreams.

Who can tell what it will grow into?

Just be a good human in the year of The Pig, and everything will work out for your good.

Everything will definitely work out in the end.

 May the New Year be wondrous!

Puffin love

Great Saltee Puffin

For all those who are in a dark place – here is some puffin love for you.

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

Great Saltee Puffin

This is the puffin love story I heard ( and witnessed) on my last visit to the Great Saltee ūüôā


To book a boat to Saltee Islands from Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, call +353-53-912-9684.


Links to some of my previous posts about Saltee Islands and Puffins:

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/28/saltee-islands-a-place-where-birds-rule/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2014/06/30/golden-faces-silver-eyes-and-blue-eyelids/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/23/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-1/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2015/06/27/saltee-islands-treasure-bigger-than-money-part-2/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2016/07/16/saltee-island-off-to-see-the-puffins/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2017/07/22/saltee-islands-all-things-beautiful/

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Islands – the colours of May

Kilmore Quay

This time I visited Great Saltee island in May, a month earlier than I usually do.  Kilmore Quay marina is busy as always, and Razorbill, the boat we will travel on, is moored at her usual place near the slipway.

I have a couple of minutes to take a few pictures. Love the name of this fishing boat ūüôā Once again I remember my good intention to purchase myself an inflatable float vest… Next time for sure!

Kilmore quay

The sea is smooth, and our 5 km trip lasts only 15 minutes.

“All people young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the islands, and leave them as they found them for the¬†unborn generations to come see and enjoy.”¬† ¬†¬†Michael the First

Great Saltee

Michael the First, then farmer’s son Michael Neale, bought the islands in 1943.

“It was never my intention to make a profit from these islands.¬† Day visitors are welcome to come and enjoy at no cost.¬† Bird watchers will always remain welcome.”¬†¬†Michael the First

From the bird’s view Obelisk is in the shape of the Maltese Cross. Each side of the Obelisk has inscriptions, and on the front, under the image of the Prince, it reads:

“Nothing is impossible to the man who can, will, then do. / This is the only law of success. This monument was erected by Prince Michael the First as a symbol to all children that be hard work, perseverance, their dreams and ambitions ¬†may also be realised”.

Saltee Islands

The Chair, or the Throne, is dedicated to his mother.

” This chair is erected in memory of my mother to whom I made a vow when I was ten years old that one day I would own the Saltee Islands and become the First Prince of the Saltees. Henceforth, my heirs and successors can only proclaim themselves Prince of these Islands by sitting in this chair fully garbed in the robes and crown of the Islands and take the Oath of Succession”. Michael the First

Saltee Islands

The Islands have a long history and they used to be inhabited and farmed. There is a rumor that the Islands were accidentally made by the Devil himself while he was being chased by St Patrick. The evil creature took two handfuls of rocks from the Comeragh Mountains between Lemybrian and Kilmacthomas, ¬†and then dropped them on the run in the Celtic Sea. ¬†St Patrick built a causeway, just a mile from Kilmore Quay, to connect the islands to the mainland. It is dangerous to swim around the St Patrick’s causeway because of the very strong riptides. When the tide is in, the causeway is almost completely submerged. Don’t try to walk in the shallow water – the current is very strong and will sweep you off your feet.

But let’s get to the point. I am here to see the puffins ūüôā

Saltee Islands

puffin

puffin

This trip was different, and I only saw four puffins. Every year they return to the same place.

I took off across the island to see the Gannets. The island looks beautiful in May. Bluebells and Sea Campions painted it in blue and white.

Saltee Islands

Saltee Islands

I saw two Eurasian Rock Pipit couples in exactly the same place as the year before.

Saltee Islands

Rock Pipit

I also saw unusually many Cinnabar butterflies, all over the place. On a closer inspection, they were all dead! This one was being consumed by a spider…

The path turned to the edge of the cliff. This is a young Lesser Black-backed gull.

Gracious Guillemots don’t mind posing for a picture.

Guillemot

Saltee Islands

I am approaching the highest point of the island. An almost vertical climb will take me to the land of Great Black-backed gulls. More pictures next week.

Thank you for your company! You are the best.

Saltee Islands

Here you can find some of my previous post about Saltee Islands.

2014, 2015, 2016

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful week!