Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Wind, waves and wildlife!

Well, the good weather finally left us and we’ve had a grey and windy day today which has come as a bit of a shock to the system after all the sunshine we’ve been treated to the last week! Still, it’s great news for photographing seabirds though, as they seem to prefer a bit of wind for flying in to help them glide over the waves, or sit in the up draughts alongside our six-storey  ship. I must admit, it’s been great to be outside on the back deck shooting seabirds in flight again! I think the last time I was really able to stop and shoot seabirds was probably back in 2010 when I was working on the fishing boats. I’ve had a few trips in the meantime obviously, but I’ve been mostly shooting coastal birds for a while now and it’s brilliant to be back out with the gannets again.

The mystery of why there are so many birds around has been solved as well and it turns out that they’re all here making the most of the food waste that gets dumped from the kitchens. All our other waste is either recycled or incinerated on board to minimise the environmental impact of the ship while it’s working, so it’s only biodegradable waste that is put over the side. Still, it’s good enough for the fulmars and gulls, though it’s a little strange watching them fight over bits of watermelon

A gull making off with a chip. That’s a good traditional Scottish diet!

A group of fulmars congregating around the food waste

The fulmars are here in one of the largest groups I’ve ever seen around a ship and there are probably at least 100 of them following us around. I love how at home seabirds are in the oceans regardless of what the sea state is like and it’s great watching them shrug off breaking waves and strong winds like it’s nothing at all.

A fulmar splashing through a wave

A group of fulmars looking absolutely unfazed regardless of how tilty they get

And this one was so comfortable it tucked up and went to sleep

For a little while we were also joined by a few gannets which circled the ship for about an hour or so, gliding around the ship and floating in the air by the bows.

A gannet flying below the bows of the ship

More entertainingly, for some reason every time the gannets landed on the sea they would target a fulmar and force them to rush out of the way. I’ve no idea why they were doing this since nothing was feeding at this point, but I don’t know an awful lot about birds so if anyone else has any suggestions I’d love to hear them!

The gannets liked to use the fulmars as landing pads for some reason