Ireland lived up to it’s reputation as rainy and windy when I arrived in the southeastern corner of the country. My first location was the spectacular Saltee Islands, where nature has been left surprisingly alone through the years, with very limited human activity. But it also means that there is no harbour, so it’s just possible to land there during good weather periods.
So – windy weather at my arrival just meant waiting three days to get ashore. In the meantime, I spent some time spotting diving gannets and waders at a nearby beach, before I left for the western parts of the country to cover other regions.
It was impossible to obtain permission to stay at the island overnight, so I had to go there just during the daytime. A little pity, because the most creative shots could have been made during the darker part of the day. But the islands are privately owned, and the king of the Saltees has the absolute power!
I early realized that this is a fantastic spot for seabirds; all the common species, including gannets, flourish all over, without too much shyness. They seem to lead a good life, and the number of birds is stable or increasing. Also the rock dove let me come close when feeding among the yellow lichen-covered cliffs (really a place for ornithocoprophile lichens!)
During my 2 ½ days on the island, I concentrated on capturing both the birds and their environment, and there were plenty opportunities for catching birds in motion. I also was very fascinated by puffins and razorbills showing up with their bills filled with small fishes - a sight that really warms a bird-loving heart.
In my native Norway, this is now nearly the exception more than the rule. The number of seabirds is declining dramatically in all parts of the country, mostly because of the fisheries. Here, obviously, this is no problem.
Pål Hermansen / Wild Wonders of Europe
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