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April 2015

 

 

 

Gannet in the colony, Saltee Island

 

 

Apart from all my local photography, I went on a trip to Saltee and Skomer Island with the irrepressible Danny Green, the encyclopaedic and extremely talented Chris Gomersall, and friends Cathy and Ian.  We laughed a lot, photographed a lot, ate a lot and chatted endlessly.  It's what trips are made for!  

Our adventures started with some sea trips to Saltee Island to photograph the Gannets. 

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It took me a while to find my creative eye on Saltee.  Faced with a colony with hundreds of pairs of Gannets at the height of the breeding season, when courting, mating and nest building building are underway, it's quite hard to know where to start! I spent a lot of time feeling that I wasn't quite getting the shot but then worked out the elements of behaviour or composition that I was looking for.  I spent a lot of time focussing on the gannets' preening and tried to get really up close and personal (with a long lens obviously!) in order to get the feather and eye detail.  Instead of going for images with 'clean' backgrounds, I also deliberately chose to record the blur of the vibrant and crowded colony.  I was pleased with these.

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I also wanted to focus on aspects of Gannet behaviour... nest building and all that this involves plus the fighting, and courtship.  Watching the Gannets arrive on a patch of virgin Sea Campion and strip it bare like flying lawn-mowers was incredible!  Watching them stealing from each other's nests was hilarious.  They are so cheeky. The courtship, the bloody fighting, the mating and the pair bonding all made for priviliged viewing and hopefully, some interesting images.

I've photographed puffins on many, many occasions.  Not as many as Dan, who by his own admission sometimes feels 'puffined-out' but I'd never seen this particular aspect of puffin display behaviour before.  The male puffin flaps his wings and throws his head and bill backwards into the air... but he also vibrates his wings in the most extraordinarily mesmerising way.  

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I also tried to experiment by using the light differently.. sort of working against it.  I'm not sure that this worked but I'm also including several images of puffins carrying sticks or flowers.  I think some of these were gifts and some were on their way into or out of burrows. I can't resist taking pictures from ground level either... just when the little head pops up out of the burrow.  So cute!  There are more puffin pics in the gallery.  Too many!  But I'm not very good at weeding them out.

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Skomer is famous for its Puffin and Manx Sheerwater population but has a thriving population of rabbits.  I'd never really spent time photography baby bunnies before so spent some time with these teeny and ridiculously cute creatures.

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