Tales from Grey Haven.
With the return of the Arctic skuas and the Arctic terns it surely feels like the season is now on. There are daily feeding frenzies to be seen throughout the Minch, often accompanied by harbour porpoise who are foraging between the floating birds. With the wind getting more gentle every day the surveys are surely a pleasure and I feel such gratitude to be able to live here in Aird on the Isle of Lewis!
Now to my last few sightings. It truly is nice to see all the birds gather over a school of sandeels, herring and sometimes mackerel. But when they all fly off at the same time, my heart usually starts to race. There, a feeding minke whale breaks the surface, usually sideways, making it hard to take a picture of the open mouth. But the seagulls and kittiwakes who trail after the whale are proof of the feeding that took place. While I watched the first couple of feedings a cuckoo was calling somewhere in the field behind me. The surrounding in which I’m able to watch these magnificent animals, is just breathtakingly beautiful and at times it feels quite surreal.
Over the past few days I watched multiple great northern divers disappear into the dark water to then surface with a fish in their bill.
There have been black-backed seagulls flying by with their beak filled with sandeels, usually chased by a crowd calling the famous “mine,mine,mine”.
One of my favourite sightings was a gannet that flew past me with a fish tail hanging out of its beak.
As the feeding starts, so does the fighting and chasing. The skuas never miss an opportunity to steal the fish from another bird - they definitely live up to their “pirate” reputation! I also found the first nest site of an oystercatcher pair; let’s see what cute little feather fluffballs will roam around in about 24-39 days. May the incubation be successful. As now is a very important time for all the birds, I don’t visit the nesting sights too often, I don’t want to annoy the parents too much. So it’ll be a little while until my next update on hopefully some chicks along the cliff edge.
The feeding birds are a really happy sign in many ways. Not only does it mean that there is food but also that there is still some fish left in our fragile ocean. Every frenzy is a sight of hope and a testimony to how resilient Mother Nature is.
I feel so privileged that I’m able to share the wildlife from the beautiful Outer Hebrides with you all.
Life always finds a way,