If you’ve read my previous entries you will know it’s been a tough June for seabird monitoring. Gale force winds, rain, mist and everything in between has made it hard to spend time on the hill. More recently we’ve had a couple of good days, the first allowed me to get over to Ruaival to see how the fulmars were faring in the plot at the North end of Dun.
Photo: A scope is necessary to get good views of all potential nest sites
At the start of the year I take a series of photographs and mark all potential nesting sites and then over time I alter the photographs to reflect whether birds are still sitting,and later again to record whether there are chicks. This takes a surprising amount of time due to changes in vegetation – birds that were once easy to spot are very well hidden and it takes a little bit of patience to confirm presence or absence.
Photo: Mid-section of the fulmar productivity plot at the North end of Dun
Throughout the survey I could hear the seals ‘singing’ below me, I can’t really remember a time when I had seen so many seals in the Dun gap. There were animals hauled out on the rocks on both sides of the gap, more on the rocks in between and ten or so swimming amongst the kelp.
The tide was particularly low and it amused me to think that one or two of the seals might have woken up and got a little surprise to see that they were high and dry several metres above the sea.
That day was a great example of just how much you can see when you go for a little stroll. Besides the seals, the puffins on Ruaival were showing well on land (and there were hundreds rafting on the sea!), pipits were busy feeding young, a bonxie was tucking into something feathered, eiders were resting on the rocks, a Black Guillemot stopped for a short break on the Dun side of the gap before heading off again (terrible photo, sorry!), a gull flew below and fulmars glided with ease along the cliff edges.