It is cool and cloudy when I am in Martin’s Haven in the morning. This is where the ferries leave for Skomer Island.
The boat to Skomer Island departs from Martin’s Haven, a small bay that can be reached by car in a few minutes from Marloes in western Wales. The ferry will normally transfer to Skomer Island at 10:00 am, 11:00 am and 12:00 am. There are about 40 people on the boat. Therefore, the number of visitors is limited to about 120 per day. My pension owner said that the rush can be very large and you should be there 1 hour before the ticket sale begins. On that day, however, the rush was not so great because the weather was not very good. When I arrived there shortly after 8:00 am, I was actually the first one, but soon some people arrived. It was still not clear if the ferry would go at all. At some point, the ticket sales were then unlocked, but on demand we were only told that is not decided whether the ferry leaves or whether the captain will decide on the spot. The captain would not arrive until 9:00 am.
There were more and more people, but fortunately I was in the lead in the queue and did not have to worry about not getting a ticket if the ferry only went once this time. After a long, anxious wait, the captain finally arrived and decided that the ferry would leave. It was a bit of a miracle for me as it stormed just like the days before and the weather forecast also announced a storm for the rest of the week and I was not very confident to get to Skomer Island at all.
The ferry is quite small and I did not think that actually 40 people fit on it and it got pretty tight, especially since a lot of the people had big backpacks with photo equipment. The crossing takes about 20 minutes, and the waves, which looked rather harmless from the land, showed significantly larger when on the ship. It reminded me Continue reading Visiting Skomer Island for Puffins
A strong wind from the east drives the whitecaps over the sea. Even in spring, the wind lets the photographer freeze to the bone. The sky is overcast and the persistent strong wind whirls the sand up to the edge of the cliffs. First, it is a steep, narrow stairs to climb up to the lighthouse, which stands on a rock spur. When I get to the top, I find that many Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) duck into their nesting holes for protection from the wind. Atlantic Puffins are relatively small birds which stand its ground in a crowded bird colony by settling in self-dug burrows. These burrows are dug usually up to 4 feet below the surface. Like most other seabirds they are colonial breeders. Underground Puffins rear their offspring. With feet and beak a comfortable housing is created that is safe from attacks by larger birds as sea gulls. This does not seem to be a promising start for a photo session. I am crouching in a grassy hollow in the lee of the lighthouse and I already reproach myself that it was a stupid idea to drive to the small island and in the very end this trip would be a waste of time. Later, however, I am astonished to see an Atlantic Puffin rising in front of me and being lifted into the air by a Continue reading Atlantic Puffin on Hornöya in Norway
In the age of digital full-frame cameras with a very fast autofocus, flight-shot photography is possible that used to be (almost) unthinkable only some years ago. Ducks starting trembling over the water were (and are) still quite easy. But who managed to photograph a flying Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)? Other land birds were usually only photographed at take-off. Seabirds, on the other hand, provide the best conditions to make shoot excellent aerial images quite easy. These birds are numerous, they are tall and therefore do not move too fast. At hatching, they appear on land – albeit often on fairly inaccessible shores. Besides, they are not shy at all in flight and approach sometimes on short distances.
These are a lot of reasons why seabirds are still favored by bird photographers today. They are the Continue reading Where to photograph seabirds in flight in the UK
Inseln im windgepeitschten Meer der Beringsee. Wellenberge werden von weißem Schaum gekrönt. Die Luft ist bis zur Sättigungsgrenze mit salziger Feuchtigkeit getränkt. Meterhohe Wellen brechen gegen die schroffe, felsige Küste. Auf einmal brechen Sonnenstrahlen durch die Wolkendecke. Sie verzaubern die wilde Landschaft mit warmen Farben und enthüllen den melancholischen Charme der offenen Tundra. Hier ist es ganz ruhig. Nur ab und zu erklingt der melancholische Fluggesang der Spornammer (Calcarius lapponicus) oder die hohen Triller der Beringstrandläufer (Calidris ptilocnemis), die hier in eigenen Unterart vorkomme. An den Klippen geht es dagegen ganz anders zu. Die Luft ist mit den stechenden, eindringlichen Schreien einer ungezählten Vielzahl von Seevögeln erfüllt. Vielköpfige Brutkolonien vor allem von Alken trotzen Kälte, Wind und Wasser
Wie bereits in einem Blog über die Pribilof-Inseln hat Brutvogel-Hotspot beschrieben, ist der Besucher zunächst einfach nur überwältigt, wenn er auf den Klippen hoch über dem Meer steht und die wild Landschaft am Ende der Welt, geprägt von Moos, Nässe und Felsen in sich einsaugt. Unten, am Fuß der Klippen, brechen die Wellen in der Brandung des Pazifiks an den Fels. Darüber haben die Seevögel ihre Kindergärten – manchmal in den rauesten und gefährlichsten Abschnitten der Klippen – angelegt.
Baumfreie, Tundra-bedeckte Hügel prägen das Landschaftsbild der Pribilofs. Dafür beherbergen sie die größte Seevogelkolonie der nördlichen Hemisphäre mit 98 Prozent der Weltpopulation der Klippenmöwe (Rissa brevirostris). Außerdem findet sich hier Continue reading Vogelfotografie auf den Pribilof Inseln
A Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) with a yellow bill might be not the only difference what you realize, if you are seabirding on different locations. Well, Somateria mollissima v-nigrum is breeding along the arctic coasts of north-east Siberia to Alaska and shows a yellow bill unlike its relatives from the northern part of Europe. But is this the only difference when seawatching? Along island or peninsula edges seabirds are living and migrating not only in the Palearctic but also in the Nearctic. Bird-lens.com managed trips now to 2 hotspot destinations in the high arctic. One location, Slettnes is on the northern tip of Norway, on the Nordkyn peninsula. This is the best location to spot the migration out to the Barents Sea.
On contrast, Gambell, a small village on the north-western tip of the remote St. Lawrence Island of Alaska, is an outstanding outpost not only for North American Birders to observe impressive bird migration along the shore of the island to the Bering Sea further north.
After having performed these trips, it is time to compare the chances and challenges in observation and photography of migrating pelagic Continue reading Slettnes – Gambell-Seawatching: a photographers point of view
Spray foam feet high. The air is impregnated to the saturation limit in puccinellia. Metre-high waves crash against the craggy, rocky shores that extend indomitable and majestic into the air. Just having left the small fishing port of Tarbet in County Lairg, Highland in a calm sea, a beautiful sound between a rocky coast and a rocky island enchants the visitor. The crossing to the bird island is short-lived. The landing site is an unaffected looking, lonely sandy beach. But this is the east side facing away from the Atlantic sea. On the west side, the world looks very different. Sun rays breaking through the cloud cover giving the wild scenery wrapped in warm colors a melancholy charm. The air is filled with the piercing cries of a countless multitude of seabirds. Despite cold, wind and water they have set their breeding colony on Scotland’s west coast.
The visitor is first simply overwhelmed when the first rays of the wild scenery of moss and rocks give off warm colors wrapped in melancholy charm. In the distance the Continue reading Handa, a Scottish bird island
A high level of noise prevails especially in the breeding season on a typical bird cliff. Right in the middle an attentive observer might discover a colorful, stocky fellow with bright orange feet and beaks. Resting on the edge of the cliff, as if it is not concerned of all the fuss. This is the Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). You can see Puffins often in more or less large groups standing on rocky outcrops. Observing this bird for a while, you might see how a puffin after another flying – in a bumblebee-like flight and then gladly land to join its peers. Not only for the tourists this is a very popular species. So elegant and skillfully Puffins act underwater, so clumsy they act on landing and when staggering on the cliffs. That is why Puffin gain this special benevolence of many tourists of bird colonies. He acts as the needy comedians among seabirds, which you simply must give his sympathy.
Often you can see Continue reading Puffins, the black-red-white clowns of bird rocks
It is hard to believe, but also on the northern edge of the WP (Western Palearctic) seabirds are living and migrating. To see them, bird-lens.com managed a trip in the beginning of May to the northern tip of Norway, to the Nordkyn peninsula. This is the best location to spot the migration out to the Barents Sea. The Nordkyn is the next peninsula west of Varanger, which might be more known.
After trips to the western edge of the WP to see and photograph migrating pelagic birds, now migrating seabirds with a strictly northern circle of migration could be observed from the land but also on an off-shore boat trip with Vidar Karlstad.
I went out on his boat to the excellent migrating grounds north of Continue reading Seabird migration from a boat in Nordkyn/ Norway