One of the most lasting impressions that you come away from the Isle of May with is the value of life itself. Sitting on a cliff top surrounded by wildlife and your thoughts that can be both blissful and a tad disturbing at times ! Those rocky cliffs have been there for thousands of years and will be I'm sure for many more to come. Me, well I'm just passing through and the older I get the more I realise how precious life is.
Watching all that goes on around you makes you realise how lucky you are, well certainly in my case.Others maybe haven't had all the breaks I have, but things haven't always gone smoothly for me either.
Those creatures born as birds have a real battle of survival, especially on the May. The huge effort involved in perpetuating the species which often ends in tragedy.
Initially you may have contempt for some species.Take the Gulls for example.
The Greater Black-backed Gull is top of the food chain on the island.
No one messes with this monster Gull.
Even the bird ringers must think twice before going near a nest!
Like the other Gulls the GBB will both scavenge and hunt.
They fly along the cliffs looking for vulnerable chicks.
but that bill is capable of taking something much larger if it's desperate, an adult Puffin even.
I didn't witness any successes this time but I have in the past.
The Herring Gulls, common were I live in North Wales are more likely to feed on shellfish and molluscs than the other gulls from what I could see. They are very cunning and drop their prey from a height to crack open shells. Like all the gulls they will feed on garbage too but there is none to be had on the island, well maybe the odd leftover scraps head in their direction.
Often seen as a pest they will attack humans who happen to be holding food such as ice creams or chips having been encouraged to do so by people feeding them in the first place.
They will also join in the attack on returning Puffins too but that role seems to be dominated by the Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
They are very sneaky ! They attack the Puffins as they sit on the cliff top waiting to approach their burrows.
It doesn't seem too effective as I never saw them make a Puffin drop it catch in that way, however, in other areas they just sit on the ground around the burrow entrances and mob a little Puffin en masse.
That was very successful and a high proportion of the Puffins lost their catch as can be seen here.
Pretty revolting! The parent throws up and the chick eats the result.
As you can see, it's full of stolen Sand Eels.
There are one or two particular rogue birds though. They are not content to steal another's dinner. They will steal their young given half a chance. Tern chicks are a favourite but they will stoop as low as stealing from other gulls too.
This one has grabbed a Herring Gull chick and the adult has given chase.
The Herring Gull's cries of desperation are heard by others and soon they join in the rescue attempt.
Sometimes though, too many cooks spoil the broth so to speak.
A Gull joining in the posse is one Gull too many.
It flies in to the following group just as they were about to catch up with the thief.
The following mob is dispersed and the Lesser Black-backed makes good it's escape.
Well, that's one bird's demise but another's survival.
As the sun goes down on another day those of us left take in the beauty of a glorious sunset.
Some won't live to see another.
Me ? Well thankfully I have the security of home to return to not that life on the May is in any way uncomfortable nowadays. Returning to the mainland always makes me a little sad. There is definitely something special about being cut off from the rest of the world, well so it seems anyway.
Once again, my thanks to all who made my visit possible.
Until the next time.Farewell.