|Monday, 26 July 2010 00:00|
Rainy Runde 2010
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Almost three full days out of four that I planned to spend with birds on the Runde Island in Norway have been in the name of rain. It was really bad luck because as it was the longest period of constant rain I had experienced so far this summer. Knut, the owner of the camp I always stay in, told me that when the hot days occupy my home Central Europe the bad weather usually strikes Runde area
White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
I came to Runde in the evening on Sunday 18th July. The very last section of the drive led through the beautiful fjords and islands south of Alesund. The waters in fjords were glittering while mirroring the small rocky islands in the sunset on the horizon. A strange feeling of sadness and solitude went over my mind – it must have been the music sounding from the CD-player and the amazing landscape outside – who would expect to feel to lonely in the middle of civilized country…
Seascape at Alesund:
But back to birds and Runde Island – right after arrival to my cabin I ran up to the island to check the situation at the famous Puffin rock. It was fresh evening with clear sky and stronger wind from east. The rock was empty but the Puffins (Fratercula arctica) began to return to the rock at ca. 20.30. One hour ago it felt like looking at the bees swarming at the beehive slot. This year season was poor for Puffins – the birds had to fly far to get some catch and it seems that there was little fishes around the island – the consequence is a small number of offspring but it was difficult for me to judge as I was quite late and the adults already finished the hatching and feeding.
Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
And it was not only Puffins who finished their season – also the Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) were gone from their cliff colonies so I was quite surprised to find only empty rocks the other day. Kittiwakes were one of my main targets this year. So it was not only bad choice weather-wise (rain) but also time-wise…well, again a good reason to come back again in next years :-)
Guillemot (Uria aalge)
Fortunately there is always enough action on Runde in every season so I moved to the lighthouse rock and watched the passing birds – mostly Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) and Gannets (Morus bassanus). Gannets are probably the longest-staying migrating birds at Runde – the very first birds usually come already in early winter months and now in July they seem to peak their nesting activities as it appeared from the amount of seaweed they were constantly bringing from the sea. In the flocks of adult birds, there were already this-year brown-colored Gannets.
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Otherwise, there was quite a number of Razorbills (Alca torda) and Guillemots (Uria aalge) passing by and bringing small fishes to the cliffs; there were Gulls there as well as the famous Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) and occasionally also Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus), common Eider (Somateria mollissima) and for the first time here and actually in my life I have seen the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus).
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
As the Kittiwakes were already gone, the Skuas had to find another victim of their voracious forays – Gannets. The Skuas are famous for stealing the prey to other birds – they seldom hunt themselves but attack the other birds bringing the food and force them to release or vomit the catch that they then seize. I have seen many attacks where Great Skua chased Gannets returning from the sea but only occasionally there were close enough for decent photo so this one is rather a record shot of what was happening:
On the way back I checked the lee shore in the small inlet right next to the lighthouse and was lucky to find pair of Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle) – these birds are commonly seen in the sea bellow the cliffs but quite rarely on the cliffs in some reachable distance. That day the water was calm enough for me to lie down and také few shots from the water level – even better for my purposes the birds floated towards me so I got a chance to take few shots of this beautiful bird.
Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)
The very last light of that evening I again spent with Puffins – together with crowds of German and Dutch-speaking tourists. I went down to the campsite while the thought of the next days´ weather occupied my mind – the forecast showed almost 3 days of continuous rain…
Northern Wheatear, young (Oenanthe oenanthe)
And it was as predicted – the morning rain had the only pros – I could sleep longer that day. Around lunchtime I drove to the other side of the island and explored the byways while watching Pipits, Wheatears, Linnets, Swallows, Crows, Gulls and Oystercatchers.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
The weather turned to be even worse that the day before so I only took a short trip up to the island – I wanted to check the fresh-water lakes in the middle of the island. The fog was so dense I could hardly see anything and the Great Skuas´ presence was only apparent due to their distinct call. After the lunch the rain intensity decreased so I made the same drive as the day before – this time I took almost no picture – I dropped by a van with Czech licence plate and the small visit of the guys turned into 3-hours nice chat. They were also interested in birds and the man had an interesting plan to make pictures of White-tailed Eagle by placing fish lure onto the floating piece of plastic close to the shore – quite nice idea but I had doubts this technique might work in reality – we will see…
Hooded Crow (Corvus corone cornix)
And also the last day at Runde this year. The morning looked pretty the same as last two days but the forecast promised sun in the afternoon. I did not want to waste any more time and moved out towards the lighthouse again. The walk was OK but as soon as I reached the lighthouse it began to rain and it did not stop for about 6 hours. The heaviest rain within first 2 hours I spent in the only dry and sheltered place around – at the toilet :- ). After two hours I could not wait anymore and left for the rocky shore behind the lighthouse – sheltered by the rocks from the strongest wind I watched the life on the sea. The waves were even higher than on Monday so most of the pictures are taken from top view with the seawater in background – not really the best setting but it was the only option for me in that moment. In spite of all the cons I spent about 5 hours on the coast watching the seabirds. It is very pleasant activity and it seem you would not get bored even after several days – especially when there is nice weather this is great spot to be – just sit down on the rock and let yourself being surprised what the sea and wind bring towards you…
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
The sky cleared up around 16.00 indeed and I left the lighthouse and took the course towards the Puffin rock – I needed some good photography experience and that is so easy with the Puffins, you can almost touch them… As I still had few hours before the Puffins came from the sea, I decided to visit the place where Great Skuas breed – some of them already had hatched the little, light-feathered fluffed-out chicks – I did not want to disturb the parents so I did not take a single picture of course – I am not crazy and also the direct encounter with adult Skua is nothing one would love to experience!
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
Photographing the Puffins in the last sunbeams was a real delight and a good finale to this year trip to Runde. As usually, there were things that I did not manage and there were shots I made that I did not expect to take. It came to my mind few times: if all the dreams I have for Runde photography will come true during my very last trip to Runde it will have to be the best photography trip of my life! But you know, the life goes its own way – that is the beauty of the wildlife photography and the nature itself – that it always brings us something unexpected, something unique…
Last picture of the trip – gannetry at sunset:
And a few Puffins at the end – in Czech Republic it seems to be an obligation to take mainly pictures of Puffins when the people visit Runde Island ;-) :
|Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:09|