Seabirds of Handa Island – Part Two

Northern Fulmars were breeding in loose colonies on the cliffs. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

Northern Fulmars were breeding in loose colonies on the cliffs. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

The northwestern tip of the island, the first sport to see seabirds on nest, was a very noisy place with tens of thousands of seabirds, maily Alcids. Handa Island is the stronghold for the British population of Common Murre (Guillemots) with around 120,000 breeding pairs. The whole atmosphere was spectacular, the views on nearby seabirds through our mini Opticron scope was unbelievably intimate. There were as many seabirds on the sae as on the cliffs and skuas often patrolled over the water for some easy meal.

Following our way on the route we headed west and southwest of the island. We have passed the magnificent Great Stack sandstone pillar which alone holds more than 7,000 pars of Common Murre. We had very close views on Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins and Northern Fulmars touched our head while gliding over the cliffs. Rock Pipit songs and calls often broke the noise of the colonies and Northern Wheatears were active on the southern slopes in looking for food.

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Common Mutres roosting rocks. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Sea Thrift Was blooming everywhere on the island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Spectacular lone seacliff is hosting hundreds of Common Murre. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Close encounters of overflying Great Skuas are not uncommon on Handa Island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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The graceful Northern Fulmar became one of my favourite seabirds. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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The wind and precipitation eroded these sandstone cliffs which is perfect nesting place for Common Murres and Razorbills. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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I enjoyed the view of a close Atlantic Puffin and the open ocean. It was really relaxing. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Guillemots are able to occupy the smallest edge for laying eggs. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Hundreds of beautiful Razorbills were also nesting among Common Murres. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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The breeding success of everyone’s favourite and adorable seabird, the Atlantic Puffin might be lower this year as Brown Rats returned to the island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Swimming and feeding Common Murres at sea. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Seabird-scape of Handa Island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Nesting Northern Fulmar. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Northern Fulmar dispute over the nest burrow.. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Spectacular sea cliffs in the northwest part of the island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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I believe this is a Heath Spotted Orchid. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Sweet warning to stay on the track. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Scenery from the top of the island. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Incredible vertical seawall holds tens of thousands of seabirds in Summer. iPhone 6s Plus

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What a privilege is finding this cooperative Atlantic Puffin and having a breakfast next to it. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Puffins can melt the hardest heart. Simply beautiful bird. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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An elegant Razorbill was guarding next to its nest. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Razorbills were very active and flew to and off the cliff very often. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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If I had a sharp prime lens… Anyway, these photos are decent results from this Sony camera. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Razorbills were like photo models. They never stood still. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Communicating Northern Fulmar. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Northern Fulmar in flight. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Close-up flight shot of a Northern Fulmar. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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My favourite Razorbill photo from the island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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This is the Great Stack. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Patrolling Great Skua over the cliffs. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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This Razorbill was just three meters away from us. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Razorbill has an absolutely perfect plumage and it’s hard to believe it is actually a mass of feathers. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Atlantic Puffins are simply lovable creatures. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Razorbills have bright yellow mouth which is useful visual alarm in threat and also during display. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Another angle of the confiding Razorbill. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Incubating Northern Fulmar with its mate. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Singing Rock Pipit on a sea cliff. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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We found a couple of Rock Pipits on the island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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It’s never enough to photograph Atlantic Puffins. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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It was a bit early in the season to see Atlantic Puffins full of fish in their beak. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Close view on Common Murres or Common Guillemots. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Wing flapping of an Atlantic Puffin. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Another seascape photo from the western side of Handa Island. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

At the southern end the habitat changed from rocky shores to sandy beaches and so its birdlife from seabird colonies to Arctic Tern colony and nesting Eurasian Oystercatchers and Common Ringed Plover.

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Sandy beach on the southern part of the island and the rocks with Arctic Terns. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Adult male Northern Wheatear on its perch. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Adult female Northern Wheatear was busy in collecting food. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Beautiful colours everywhere. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

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At the end of the 6km long trekking the Sun was about to shine again. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

The last ferry was leaving at 16:45 and we decided to have a proper dinner in the Shorehouse Restaurant before we left for RSPB Corrimony Reserve. We had a healthy salmon with a mix of vegetables. We still had plenty of daylight for the next few hours of journey enabling enjoyment of the drive in the usually stunning northwest Highland.

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On the way back to the Tarbet port in lovely sunshine. Sony Cyber-shot HX400V © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Nice salmon dish from the Shorehouse Restaurant. iPhone 6s Plus © Gyorgy Szimuly

 

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