Date: 22nd May 2009
Each year I try my best to make a visit to the Isle of May on the east coast of Scotland, although I don’t always succeed. May – July is by far the best time of year to make the trip, when thousands of birds build their nests to breed on the island, which lies just off the coast of Anstruther, Fife. I’m very glad to have made the trip this year (having failed on numerous occasions last year, long story!) as there was an excellent variety of birds and other wildlife on show, all helped by the stunning weather. The Fulmar above was sitting on a cliff ledge about five metres below me when I took this shot. The birds aren’t totally oblivious to the human visitors, but with a slow approach they are fairly happy to pose for a few photographs.
These three Guillemots were obviously having a heated discussion about the current state of fish stocks in the surrounding waters when I snapped this photo. North Berwick Law, which is about 13 miles from the island, can be seen in the background.
Love was certainly in the air on the May Isle and it was really interesting to watch the pairs of birds interacting with one another. They bob their heads, dance on the spot or touch beaks, clearly showing their intimate and strong bond with one another. These birds usually mate for life, somehow recognising each other from the thousands of other, seemingly identical individuals.
Puffins are always a firm favourite with visitors to the island and are happy to sit in groups or pairs only metres away from snapping photographers and excited children. Even though the birds are relatively close you still need a decent telephoto lens to get these type of shots. All of the photographs here were shot using a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens with a 2x Teleconverter at full zoom, yet it would still be nice to get even closer! I’ll have to make another trip back soon.
Shooting most of these birds in direct sunlight is a tricky business as their plumage ranges from deep blacks to pure white, stretching any camera’s tonal range to the limit. Although the head could do with a little more sun I like this shot of a Razorbill above due to the colourful turquoise and green water in the background. For more information on the Isle of May visit: www.isleofmayferry.com