Saltee Islands

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!

Baby bird boom in Great Saltee, Part I

As I do every summer, I went to the Great Saltee once again, this time in July. You can find some of my previous posts here, and learn more about the history, geography and wildlife of the island.

Thanks to the kind Captain Bates we got an extra hour on the island – a treat! Here is his An ForachaA Guillemot – waiting for us to board.

Overcast at the start of my trip, the sky cleared by the time I climbed to the highest point of the island.

To get there, I had to walk through the shoulder-high ferns, full of wildlife. Thankfully, I travel light, and I actually enjoy the steep climb. People often ask me how long it takes to walk to the Gannet colony, and I can honestly say – it depends on how fast you walk. The distance is less than a mile.

I quickly walked through the Black-backed gull territory leaving them for later. First, I would go to visit the gannets.

It was so exciting to see the Gannet colony get larger and nest on the former path. I also noticed that the Shag dynasty who used to nest under the rocks for years and didn’t mind the visitors walk over their heads, abandoned their nesting territory. Later I spotted a Shag family on the side of the cliff, far from the path. Fledgling time?

I climbed down and camped behind the rock in the right side of the picture. The birds didn’t mind.

Nothing like clumsy, fluffy, sweet and defenseless chicks! How many of them have been snatched and eaten by gulls… They have nowhere to hide on this bare rock.

This is what I love most – the facial expression of a chick looking up at his mother.

Looks like this chick is asking for food. It is what they do – only look, never flap their wings or move about the nest.¬† Now and again some of the gannets take off, and some land. The colony is always in motion. Gannets never fly with fish in their bill. They swallow the fish under water and feed their young regurgitated fish opening their mouths wide for the chicks to fetch the food –¬† I have a picture in one of my blog posts.

Gannets look beautiful in flight, but landing is not their forte.

This poor devil crash-landed on a wrong nest.

This one landed smoothly and displayed a dance.

This gannet landed right in front of me. I think it is a female. After displaying some moves I could not interpret, the bird walked away and finally found her nest.

These gannets are grown up but they are not breeding this year for some reason.

I spent an hour alone with the gannets. Sadly, it was time to leave. I quickly took some in-flight pictures and a video to send to my grandchildren. Till we meet again, beautiful birds.

Great black-backed gull chicks are cute, but their growing numbers are worrying. These gulls are opportunistic feeders and predators who attack and kill other seabirds and juveniles.

There are chicks on the top of every rock. Look at these skinny legs!

I took these pictures from the path. Mama gull wouldn’t let me come any closer.

This one is a Herring gull’s son.

Guillemots, elegant birds who remind me of a whippet, have a baby too. This baby is almost a fledgling.

A younger and fluffier chick.

This Razorbill daddy made my day.

There was a chick somewhere under the rock, and the daddy was feeding him with the sand eels, one at a time.

The last sand eel.

Done with the feeding. What a good daddy!

Thank you for reading! I will share more pictures in two weeks.

www.inesemjphotography   Have a wonderful weekend!

It has been five wonderful years

I don’t know where all these years have gone, but they have been wondrous. 233 posts, at least 2000 photographs… Happy Blogoversary to me! ūüôā

2014

The beginning was shocking. I got the WAMP and wrote a bunch of articles related to the family photography since this blog was meant to be a portfolio. I launched the blog in February, but to my horror, it got a close attention from various adult websites, and I  had to delete all my articles and children photographs.

My Blogger Friends, I would quit right there if it wasn’t for your support.

I started from scratch in March.

Please, click on the photos and it will open the pages.

I wrote about myself, shared my memories and adventures. I also wrote about my friends. That year I started my annual Saltee Islands series.

 

I went to many street festivals, like the Durrow Scarecrow festival.

I also started Pat Gibbons and his Foxes series.

It was a great year, I blogged twice a week.

2015

I started getting more feedback. It was wonderful. People asked questions, commissioned photographs. That year I wrote about Clonmel photographer William Despard Hemphill, and what a rewarding surprise it was to get this email:

Just a quick Thank you for your excellent blog on Clonmel and William Hemphill. I am his great great grandson and my dad has all his books and helped produce the book about his pics. His mum lived in Oakville, Dr Hemphill‚Äôs house in Clonmel and I went there once before it was demolished and the supermarket car park built. When I left school (1976) I cycled round the area taking pictures also based on Dr Hemphills…¬†

…Thanks again for the blog. I‚Äôll be showing it to my dad (93 on Tuesday) and he will be thrilled. Born in Carick-On-Suir he has incredible recall of the area, and your pics will bring them back again.

R… E…

That year I also wrote about my travels, and as always, about birds and animals.

I didn’t forget to visit Pat and his foxes.

I did some street photography. This is Cian Finn.

He sings about life, and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

I also started Waterford Walls series that summer. In October I went to Donegal to attend Elena Shumilova’s first international workshop, and the trip resulted in four blog posts.

2016

That year I started Anne Valley series and wrote three blog posts. Since then I regularly visit the trail.

I started Clonegam series.

I wrote about myself, and shared my opinions ūüôā

 

I met two journeymen, and after a month, got a feedback from a fellow blogger on their further travels in Ireland.

2017

I started Comeragh and Knockmealdown, Greenway, Mount Congreve and Curraghmore House series.

The blog posts about Pat and his foxes were the most popular. Many websites around the world translated the story into different languages, and some of them actually asked permission. There were also some who removed my logo ūüôā It doesn’t matter to me, because the sole purpose of my blog was to spread a word. I was so delighted when my friend told me that Bored Panda website used my pictures along with the story from the Irish Examiner :). Anyway, I am happy that Pat and his foxes are getting so much attention.

I continued with the street festivals-related posts: Waterford Walls, Harvest Festival, St Patrick’s Parade, Spraoi.

2018

I didn’t blog much last year.

I started, and will continue Follow The Vikings series, and Kerry series. 

Puffins and foxes surely took all the limelight, as always ūüôā Amazing¬†Poet Rummager Rose Perez wrote a charming haiku inspired by the tiny puffin

Wings

I have wings to fly

They never are really used

‚ÄėTil I see your smile

Another lovely feedback was received last year in response to my post The Last Butler of Curraghmore.

… I am Basil Croeser‚Äôs daughter, living in Montreal, Canada. My brother… sent the link to your blog post entitled The Last Butler of Curraghmore and I just wanted to thank you so much for your lovely words and photos. ¬†
…They were really chuffed and surprised and I think it made their week!…
Thanks again and best regards,
K…

What you won’t find in my blog:
– ANY sort of radicalism and also lies, defamation, hate, envy
What I want to ask:
– Please, link your Gravatar picture to your current page so that every blogger could easily visit your blog ‚ô•
РUse Calendar and Archives widgets so that your visitors could access your earlier blog posts. You deserve to be heard.

I don’t know how long I will blog, but I think that all my efforts throughout these five years were worth it ūüôā

Thank you so much for all the inspiration and support! ♥

With love

www.inesemjphotography.com

Saltee Island: big adventure 2016

puffin

Sweet puffin looks at me with his wise grey eye. ¬†Another hour on the island and the boat will come to pick us up. I don’t want to leave. I want to stay there, on the edge of the cliff, and see what he sees.

puffin

The aquamarine blue water turns a shade darker.

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There is a dark cloud coming from the East, and it means rain.

saltee

Before long it was raining lazily, and the¬†raindrops sat on the puffin’s back and head, like diamond beads.

puffin puffin

I have had a fabulous time and took many photographs. I photographed¬†birds perched¬†on the cliffs, and in flight, from the front and from behind, …

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seabirds

… single and in groups.

saltees

We even saw a family of partridges and a rabbit.

rabbit

It is time to leave.

saltee

Enjoy this short video from Saltee Islands website .

We take the stairs down to the rocky shore, and walk along the water edge taking photographs of everything that lies around.

saltees 2 152

saltees 2 143

Huge thanks to the Neale family who have turned the islands into the bird sanctuary, and set up a shelter for those who might get stuck on the island overnight.

saltee islands

Our boat arrived with more photographers on board. This group will stay until the dark to take pictures of the sunset. The rubber dinghy is speeding towards the shore. It is also named after a bird. Guess which? A Puffin! ūüôā

saltees

This is Declan Bates, the captain of  An Crosan, The Razorbill. Last August Captain Bates spotted an overturned boat that capsized near Great Saltee Island. Ten people had been in water for five hours. They were rescued and taken by An Crosan to Kilmore Quay. Nine of them survived.

Thank you for the safe trip, captain!

Captain Declan Bates

I do hope you enjoyed this trip, extended over so many blog posts ūüôā

Don’t lose connection with the beautiful things of the world. Everything else won’t last long.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Island: lost in the ferns

conmorant

This young European Shag¬†was a juvenile¬†when I saw him last year, almost in the same place, and here is his mama and his new brother or sister. I recognized him because of his distinctive shyness, in opposite to his mama who is bold and¬†ill-tempered ūüôā

cormorant

I have never seen a puffin chick. Something to look forward to.

All sorts of  seagulls in the island also have chicks around this time. The parents are standing on the top of the rocks watching their young, ready to swoop and attack an intruder.

Four species of seagulls breed on Saltees. Herring gull is on the Irish Red List of the most threatened bird species. In the 1980s there were about 500 pairs on Great Saltee, and now just over 50 pairs. Good that they can live up to 30 years.

sea gull

This Herring gull clearly enjoyed posing for a portrait.

sea gull sea gull

Two species of the Black-backed seagulls are nesting on the island. We didn’t want to upset the male perched on the rock and took pictures of the chicks from a distance. This is a Greater¬†Black-backed gull, one of the largest gulls in the world. In one of my previous blogs, I have pictures of this gull in flight.

sea gull

Two fluffy Black-backed gull chicks enjoying the sun.

seagull

After leaving the Gannet colony I suggested that we should explore the north side of the island. It looked like a green meadow sprinkled with some white flowers. Off we went, and on our way we came across some nests with the eggs and the chicks wandering around. The¬†eggs belong to different species of the gulls. Later I googled ‘seagull eggs’, and was shocked as all the pages¬†that came up were related to cooking and eating these eggs!

Most of the seagulls lay three eggs. One must be stolen from the nest.

sea gull eggs

These are the eggs of a Great Black-backed gull. The pair of them is nesting in exactly the same place as last year. You can enlarge the picture to see the chick use its egg tooth to break through the egg shell. It might take 24 hours or even longer.

egg

This speckled blue eggshell is quite big which means that it belongs to a seagull.

egg

A chick is hiding in the weeds and playing dead.

seagull

After that, our detour took a bad turn, literally. We turned to the East and gradually entered the area covered with the ferns. In the beginning we managed to keep to the frail path but it led us nowhere. The seagulls hated us. Then the thorns and brambles came into the picture, and the path completely disappeared. My companions suggested that we keep moving along the coast no matter what, but the green sea of ferns might hide dangerous holes and who¬†knows what else – I didn’t want to dive in it again.

butterfly

We were right in the middle of the green area in the picture below. If you zoom it, you will see a stone wall crossing the island, with the seagulls perched on top of it. I suggested we walk to the wall, climb on it, and walk on top of the wall¬†until we reach a surface free of vegetation. So we did. The wall wasn’t flat on top, of course. The rocks were sharp and slippy, I fell, and my backside stuck between the rocks like a keystone. If I were alone I would cry. Thankfully, I was lifted up and put on the straight and narrow again. After a while we reached the main path and thus escaped being consumed by ferns. Lesson learned – keep to the main path because there is no other.

ferns

Beautiful weather had changed and the drizzle started to thicken. Suddenly the dark clouds opened in the middle revealing a perfect rectangle. Was it some sort of a message?

saltees

Another surprise Рtwo pairs of ringed pigeons. How did they make it to the island?

saltees

On our way to the boat we returned to the Puffin cliffs.

saltee

I just cannot stop taking pictures of puffins. This one came running Рsweet, funny bird!

puffin puffin

Thank you for sharing the dangers of this trip with me! The last blog about Saltee Islands is coming next Saturday!

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!