Sunday, 17 July 2011

Travelling with Gannets

One Sunday afternoon I got the privilage of going out on a small inflatable called 'The Zodiac' surveying breeding Gannets around the Fair isle coastline. As many people know whenever the boat is mentioned I often have the biggest smile on my face as its just some of the best adventures that I ever have experienced.
The Zodiac - I wish I had one!!
After all safety checks were made, We finally left North Haven and headed to the west coast where the majority of the Gannet colonies are. With our binoculars armed and ready, Myself, Carrie, Jason and 'Sailor' David attempted to count the Gannets in each colony hoping we will come up with roughly the same number as each other. Its alot harder then what you might think, as you have the dense colonies and the motion of the boat while trying to keep your binoculars still without the urge of feeling Sea sick.
Jason and Carrie Surveying Gannets
Gannet Colony on Inner Stack
As we stopped to survey each cliff, we were usually being watched at close quarters ourselves.
As we travelled to each colony, we were often followed by an impressive sight!
Gannets ascorting us down the Fair isle Coast

Coming in for a closer view

With us being out on the boat, it gave us a chance to watch Great Skuas (Bonxies) trying to steal fish that Gannets were coming back with to feed there chicks. They do this by constantly harrassing and chasing them until they grab a wing to stop the Gannet from flying. This will make them fly around in circles while tumbling out of the sky into the sea. It is definitly enough to make any bird regurgitate their catch enabling the skua to steal the fish. After all Skua's are known as the bird Pirates of the ocean.
Record shot of a Great Skua harrassing a Gannet
As we continued our way around the island looking for new colonies, We were admiring the impressive west cliffs from a different angle where we often found Seals hauled out on rocks below.
Just Chillaxing
Below is just a few more photographs from such an amazing adventure all in aid of monitoring our declining seabirds. The data which the Observatory collects is extremely vital as it will help us find ways to save our seabirds.
One of many caves around the island

The north cliffs - you can clearly see the rock fall at Bergeroo

Travelling companions

Different View of South light house

The 'flatter' Croftland of the south of Fair isle

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