Seabird colonies are particularly busy in June which means any long spell of poor weather at this time is particularly problematic as it makes monitoring a bit more of a challenge than normal. With count points at all ‘corners’ of Hirta there are plenty of options of locations to survey, but strong winds, wet spells and mist makes it difficult to regularly access anywhere other than the office!
Photo: Poor visibility makes seeing the hills, let alone the birds quite difficult!
In between days of all-four-seasons weather, I have managed to visit plots along the west coast from the Cambir to Ruaival allowing me to get great views into Gleann Mor and over towards Boreray.
After counting fulmars and auks at the Cambir I stopped off at one of the puffin colonies - watching Puffins and Razorbills and listening to seals sing is a delightful way to spend a lunch hour. It is still too early for Puffin eggs to have hatched but it won’t be long before colonies are busy with parent birds bringing in fish from dusk until dawn.
After a wet morning a few days ago the weather cleared up giving me the opportunity to visit An Lag and search for Arctic Skua nests. The incubating birds are terrifically hard to spot in amongst the heather and grass but several hours later I came away having found three nests - an increase on two sites last year:
Photos: Top) A dark morph Arctic Skua, Middle) Can you spot the nesting bird?, Bottom) Two eggs laid directly on the ground.
Great skuas are in full territorial mode with nests a-plenty across the island. This one caught my attention due to the huge difference in egg colour:
Eider ducks are quietly sitting:
We’ve been lucky enough to see a Minke whale and Basking shark in Village Bay, although any images I have taken certainly don’t do these impressive creatures justice.