Sunday, September 4, 2011

A close encounter of the Puffin kind..

We are on our way to see Shetlends showiest inhabitants.. yes I said showiest, white face, black eyes, orange feet, the entire deal. Am super excited. The morning air is cool. The sun is out and theres not a cloud in sight. Samburgh Head is the Southern most tip of the mainland.

Winding our way to Samburgh Head..
In a distance we see a lighthouse, the first that was built in Shetlands. That's not its only claim to fame as we were to discover. It was built by Robert Louis Stevenson who accompanied Sir Walter Scott to Shetlands in the 1814, a journey which made itself into the pages of his book 'The Pirate'. We park and walk up. At first we see nothing. A Fulmar sits totally indifferent to our presence.
Samburgh Head, with the lighthouse built by Robert Louis Stevenson in the background

Recent Sightings..
We walk a little further and peek over a wall. And then we see them black and white specks in a distance. I cant get good enough pictures even with my full zoom. They are incredibly cute birds.
Puffins.. The first ones we spotted :)..

Two to a pod..
I read that most seabirds are loyal, pairing for life and staying faithful to their partners.And so most of the return to the same nests year after year.  Puffins spend the winter out at sea and when summer comes romance is in the air. Happy reunions marked are by rubbing their beautiful orange bills and they are back together again. Their size can be deceiving , and they have powerful feet and beaks which helps them carve out little homes along the cliffs. They nest in burrows and are locally called the 'Tammy Norries'.   
Check out my Orange feet...
They are extremely pretty birds. We walk up and we see more puffins. This time a lot closer. We stay out quiet , so that no noise scares these beautiful little things away. Every now and then one of them decides to fly down into the water below. they look more like butterflies and they might not compare very well to the graceful gliding movements of the fulmars , skuas and gulls. But what they lack in flight they make up for in plumage. Undoubtedly the most photogenic among all the birds we have seen here.
Oops...Lost my footing.. 



We walk up to the lighthouse and spend some time looking at things there. The views from up here are stellar. Blue seas and clear skies. Samburgh head is the best place to spot Orcas they say. But we are in the wrong season for such sighting. We shall come here again.. :)




We leave Samburgh head waving goodbye to the bright visions of orange , black and white.

Meena 

4 comments:

  1. Thank you Mridula. You must visit the Shetlands . Its a bird lovers paradise :)

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  2. Aww.. the puffins are so cute! I saw some baby sea gulls in nests on rock cliffs in Northern Ireland. All the birds, free in their habitat, are so amazing to look at!

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