Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Road to Muckle Flugga

Finally, after a couple of aborted attempts we managed to travel to the northern most part of the UK, some 710 miles north of my home on the Dorset coast. The last few miles were on foot across peat bogs towards an almighty set of cliffs with some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. As we got to the cliffs the sun broke throught the clouds and the views got even better, the sea was a churning mass of blue and white, with a generous dusting of Gannets and other sea birds bobbing on the waves many metres below us. It was time to just sit and watch, ignore the wind that howled from the sea and just take it all in.

One of the birds that we can see at home but just can't get close to is the Gannet, a stunning bird that really shines when the sun hits it. There were literally thousands here today and they soared past at eye level, so close you felt like you could lean out and touch them.

The Great Skua, or Bonxie, was ever present and a enemy to everything that it could see. Whilst on these islands I have seen these impressive but menacing birds hunting Rabbits as well as just about any sea bird that it can catch. This is a bird to stay away from especially when they have a nest nearby. Never has the phrase 'don't stray from the path' been so true.

On the peat bogs around the island the beautiful Golden Plover can be found but they are far from common. I was very pleased to see this one and even happier when a chick popped into view. Both shots were taken from the road, well away from the nest.

We have Sandwich Terns at home and I really enjoy taking their photo, but up here the Arctic Tern is superb subject. Another one to stay away from though if they are on eggs, they won't tollerate any humans getting too close. 

And of course there is the Puffin, a real favourite and one of the reasons that we travelled so far. We have a very small number of these back home but they are impossible to get close to.

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