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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Brand new birding toy: Nikon CoolPix P900 megazoom


The Nikon CoolPix P900 has not only have a list of extraordinary features but is looking impressive. Image courtesy of Nikon Rumors

The mega zoom war has been up and running For a while and we, birdwatchers, are very happy about it. There are a couple of decent competitors in the market but the newly announced Nikon CoolPix P900 bridge camera is beating all of them in terms of focal length. It has a 83x optical zoom equivalent of 2,000mm focal length, but with the Dynamic Fine Zoom system it can be doubled to 4,000mm (166x zoom). If this is still not enough the digital zoom doubles the already extended focal length once again to an insane 8,000mm.

While no pictures are expected to appear on the covers of National Geographic taken by a P900, it could be a great gear supporting everyday birding or travels. On a £499/$599 price tag it is much affordable than any DSRL system. It doesn’t offer RAW editing yet JPEGs can still be widely used. It could be ideal for bloggers as files can easily be transferred to mobile devices via the built-in WiFi. A tripod is always useful for such a massive focal length, but the Dual Detect Optical VR system enables taking unblurred images while handholding. To mention one interesting area of use for birdwatchers and researchers is documenting leg flag or neck band codes on birds.

More info on Nikon’s website.

I’ll give it a go.











The ‘Like’ collectors who never like

It would have been better to attach one of my favourite bird photographer's image, but I wasn't sure if he/she would loved to see his/her image in this post. © Gyorgy Szimuly

It would have been better to attach one of my favourite bird photographer’s image, but I wasn’t sure if he/she would loved to see his/her image in this post. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Despite knowing that my post was provocative and only a part of my social connections will appreciate it, I wanted to hear others opinion about the above described ‘issue’. I joined Facebook a couple of years ago and apart of being addicted to it, I have been using it as it should be used. I am social… in two ways. I share, I chat and I like and I like being liked. I’ve followed many friends, cyber-friends, renowned bird and nature photographers showing my admiration for their work. I probably call myself a bird photographer as well so I started to share my images just like many other colleagues. Surprisingly, my shared images were liked by many, and I felt it a privilege being liked. Suddenly I was known by more and more people and they started to admire (I was told… haha) my work. I am still grateful for this as that is a real inspiration!

Big players in bird photography behave a bit differently. Apparently they spend time with social media as for most of them these sites are a free advertising platform to promote their workshops, websites, etc. They even share images what are fantastic. Without names I have to say, they are unique and eye-catching. We all love and like them. However, those photographers never take time to look their admirer’s shared photos and very rarely one can see a like of them. Not because the admirer’s photos are rubbish, but simply because they don’t care about others (if they are not their customers). They are so called celebrities (I hate this category) and to be honest, some of them are rather selfish. It is a personal experience, not a fiction. I know only one photographer (EJP) who I believe is different and I like it a lot. He is communicating and see his likes regularly.

I know that I am not alone with this opinion. In the long term this kind of attitude doesn’t pay off. Here is some of the many opinions from my thread.

– Facebook is most enjoyable and rewarding when there is a give and take with mutual likes, comments and respect. That is the way to develop an online community. I have recently started going through my “friends” “likes” and “follows” and am removing many of those who do not reciprocate, whether they are excellent photographers or not.

– I think it is an issue that resonates with many of us on Facebook. Some of the top photographers DO manage to be good Facebook friends, so where do some get off thinking that they never need to reciprocate? We all have the power to unfriend, unfollow or otherwise ignore anything or anyone we choose. It actually means quite a bit to me when a really excellent photographer that I admire likes or comments on my posts.

– I usually unfriend at some point…

– It is ignorance and high self esteem taken to extremes with many of these photographers… sad people really if you think about it.

– Good piont Gyorgy Szimuly, I thought the same about some photographer’s think I might just go and kick some off my friends list!!

– Take a look through various groups, the same photographers post consistently without bothering to ‘like’ other’s postings. Same with blog postings. I have already kicked a few off of my friend’s list. I think the point about liking others photos, blogs or posts is just an acknowledgement you appreciate and encourage their efforts…

– Great point Gyorgy. I know a few of those people. They suck. Fun for me is seeing everyone’s passion for birds and birds we don’t have in FL. Those people must think they are above the rest of us. I remove them from friends list.

I am sure if I would post this comment to other groups, the result would be quite the same. I would like to believe that this blog post reaches some of the famous bird photographers to give them a chance to react. In-blog comments are much appreciated. It is probably a topic they will hate me for, but I know many of them will understand what is behind of this frustration. Definitely not jealousy!

Thank you!

I am delighted by the huge number of birthday wishes I have received since woke up. Let me share this image of my favourites with you! I am blessed to have you!

Northern Gannet. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Northern Gannet. © Gyorgy Szimuly

 

Bearded Reedling. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Bearded Reedling. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Eurasian Oystercatcher. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Eurasian Oystercatcher. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Wood Sandpiper. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Wood Sandpiper. © Gyorgy Szimuly

 

I am not a contest guy but…

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Cancún, Yucatan, Mexico © Gyorgy Szimuly

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Cancún, Yucatan, Mexico © Gyorgy Szimuly

I have never ever entered any of my images to a photo contest but I have just added one of my images. The contest was announced by the Facebook Page of Carl Zeiss Birding US in celebration of the launch of the new Zeiss Terra ED line binoculars of the renowned brand. The prize is a new pair of the Zeiss TERRA ED binoculars in your choice of 8x or 10x.

Zeiss Terra ED 10x42 Binoculars

Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars. Image curtesy of Carl Zeiss USA

I have submitted one image of a gorgeous Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture seen at the beach of Cancún, Yucatan, Mexico. It is a relative of Turkey Vulture with an impressive head colouration.

I need some dozen of votes to have chances to win this nice looking pair of binoculars. Hopefully my readers will be generous to give me a chance to win so here is the link for the contest voting page: https://toptabapp.com/e/1trj?p=p4 Registration is trustable.