Sunday, 23 June 2013

Rathlin Island Visited Part 2

Yesterday we had arrived at the West Lighthouse were the seabirds were nesting.  Some of these birds you will have seen in my Copeland posts and I suggest if you want more information on them, read those posts.  There are 5 main birds that breed at the ‘Stacks’. 

Fulmar,  Kittiwake, Razorbill, Common Guillemot and Puffin. 

Before I show you these, here are some photos taken either from the bus or when we arrived above the 'Stacks'.








As you have seen from the video yesterday, the cliffs are very high as as such the birds are better seen through a telescope however I have done my best with my limited camera ability.
  
Fulmar
Because you are standing high up and looking down, you can easy see the Fulmars with their very stiff wings, twist and turn as they fly about.  The birds love to hang around in the wind along the cliff edges.   However they also need the air’s turbulence to take off and land on nest ledges and these are jealously guarded.  They mate for life and males return to nesting sites around Christmas to await the arrival of their partner.  Ledges area important for another reason, they mate at the nest site as they cannot do so at sea.


Fulmar

Kittiwake

I am sure you saw on yesterday’s video that Kittiwakes are capable of nesting on vertical cliff faces and this means security for them, their eggs and chicks.    They cement together wetted mud into irregularities and providing they make a good job of it, the nest stayed attached.  The lay 2-3 eggs and when hatched they have to stay still because of this precarious nest.  However they have a quiet temperament and take food by placing their heads deep inside their parents’ mouths.


Kittiwake

Razorbill
They nest in isolation to avoid predation from gulls and prefer an overhang or cervices.  They carry fish crosswise and usually give their chicks several fish at a time.  As you can see from the egg below, it has a more pointed at one end (same as C. Guillemots) and therefore it is less likely to fall off the cliff when it rolls.

Razorbill Egg

Common Guillemot
As you can see from yesterday’s video and some of these stills, Guillemots opt for safety in numbers and sometimes they are so close they are touching their neighbours.  They have a single egg and stand awkwardly while incubating it but it is never in sight.  At present no chicks are born to any of these birds.  The parents only feed chick one fish at a time and it is carried lengthwise.   I might return to Rathlin later to see if I can get any photos of the chicks although they try to keep them well hidden.  These little chicks are really very brave because when the time comes to leave the nest, although they cannot fly, they throw themselves off the cliff and hopefully don’t hit rocks but land in the sea.  They dive immediately so the gulls don’t pick them off and the male will accompany them for  several more weeks.

Common Guillemot Egg








Puffin
The Puffins on Rathlin were not as easy to see due to the distance as they make their burrows at the bottom of a cliff and safe away from predators.  They use both their legs and bill to excavate the burrow and laid 1 egg which take 6 weeks to hatch.    When ready to leave the nest, they do so at night and unlike the other auks, they have fully developed wings and therefore can fly quickly away.









 
I hope you enjoyed this post.  Thanking you for visiting and hope you will tune in tomorrow for the next episode!

In case my replies from yesterday disappear again, I would like to thank you all for your comments.  I appreciate every one.
Oops!  Have just discovered that when I got Lynn's comment for my post yesterday,  my reply to you ALL HAD disappeared. This is what it said!

Hi This is my last try to reply to all of the above bloggers. To. Eileen, Carole (thanks for alerting me about the video), Frank, Tex, Keith, CT, Bob, Saun, Bailey, Ginny and Marcia, and Lynn many thanks for all you comments. I know from them that you enjoyed this first post about Rathlin Island and I hope you all will enjoy the rest of the posts.   Margaret

  

16 comments:

  1. What an incredible place, it's so beautiful!

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  2. Hi Gunilla Yes it is absolutely wonderful. Somewhere everyone should see. Thans for comments. Margaret

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  3. Not only are these pictures amazing but all the info is so interesting. I guess I could find the same in field guides but it is always better when given via someone personally.

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  4. The third picture is beautiful! I have never heard of Fulmars, but your picture of the two of them is very sweet! How on earth did you get the egg? Your Puffin portraits are gorgeous!!!

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    1. Hi Ruth I am so pleased that you have enjoyed not only the birds but also the information. I suppose it is the teacher in me!!! Of course I am sure there are a lot of peplle who know all this stuff however it is perhaps always good to be reminded of it, 'at our age!!!'Thanks for your kind comments. Maragret

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    2. Hi Ginny

      Thank you for your kind comments. The 1st and 2nd photos were taken through the 'not so clean' bus window! The eggs were at the 'stacks' and had been collected by the RSPB volunteers and kept for people to see. As I knew I would be writing this up, I thought it would be a good idea to photograph them as I knew bloggers would want to see them. Hope you are keeping a bit better now and have had a good weekend.

      Margaret

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  5. What a fabulous place, sea bird heaven! Amazing egg I loved the markings, and the puffin was lovely, I have a soft spot for them so it was really nice to see the photo. CT :-)

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  6. those colonies of nest birds are amazing! very cool.

    as for replies to comments, blogger doesn't deliver them to us, so unless we go back to revisit your former post, we'll never see what you wrote. most of us just view the latest post and continue through our reading lists, so i'm guessing most folks don't see your replies anyway! :)

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  7. Great post again Margaret, and very informative.
    Seems blogger has got the gremlins again.

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  8. Wow, the scenery is gorgeous. I love the view of the cliffs and seabird colonies. They remind of the seabird colonies in Oregon. The puffins are my favorite, they are so darn cute! Great post and I enjoyed your photos.

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  9. Those Puffin shots are sweet Margaret, it looks a great place.


    peter

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  10. Super views of the local breeders Margaret.

    Re: Comments and replies ..
    I beg to differ with TexWisGirl as I have a very recent example of a two way conversation with a reader but I think it only works if both parties click the 'subscribe by email' and then you see everything in your gmail in box as well as in the comment section of the relative post.

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  11. what a wonderful site to visit Margaret; I would've loved that excursion! Beautiful scenery and wonderful sea-birds. The eggs are quite large..and I especially love the puffins

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  12. This is super, you are so lucky to live so close and have the opportunity to see so many birds and know so much about each one. I just love visiting here!

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  13. Wow! I have never seen a puffin close up! These are fantastic shots!

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  14. How were you able to get those eggs? And, great close-ups of the puffins!

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