Sunday, 19 June 2011

Burrowing Puffins, Territorial Arctic Terns and a moulting Rabbit!

After a hard days work and you just want to go for a small easy walk then Buness is the place to go. Its just a short walk from the observatory which in the summer you have most of the breeding seabirds nesting amongst the colourful flowers which supports the amazing scenery.
Buness in early spring
On my last walk up there, it was such a pleasant afternoon but quite chilly with a fresh north easterly wind. I came across the very small Tern colony but I did not stay for long as I did not want to disturb them. Arctic Terns has declined each year after a big crash in 2002. Back then we had around 2700 pairs nesting on the island but at chick stage, Their main food source (sand eels) disappeared letting thousands of chicks starve to death. Only 6 chicks survived which was quite devestating at the time. Since then, they have been struggling and it looks like 2011 is going to be another bad year for this long distance migrant.
Arctic Tern

known as The Sea Swallow.
Moving on to the incredible Puffin colony at the south of Buness, The cliff tops were carpeted with Sea pinks known as Thrift which provides interesting colours when its set around yellow lichen rocks and the black soil. As I tried to sit on the colourful cliff top, I heard a noise as if someone was behind me but there was nobody there but when I looked down there was burrow.
An Occupied Puffin Burrow
On closer inspection, this is what I came across
The Resident
We watched each other for several minutes before I could hear its feet and watched it disappear deeper in to the burrow. This is just one of those encounters which I will not forget in a long while.

Shortly after, sat amongst the puffins, I found this individual
getting rid of his winter coat
Its very common across the island to find Puffins making homes amongst Rabbit colonies. Puffins are known to use old rabbit burrows and can take over occupied ones.

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