Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Escape to Little Cumbrae (a.k.a shagged out)

By god I had a magic day! I have spent my day on the (almost) uninhabited Little Cumbrae, my first ever ringing excursion. Phil, Sean and I left Millport Pier at 9:30 in gorgeous sunshine, and sped across to Largs Marina to pick up Bernie, Shona, Dawn, Jen and Lucy. On the way there were wheeling Gannets and, as we entered the marina, a flash of a Black Guillemot. We soon had everyone aboard and set off for the small ilsand, just south of my current home on Greater Cumbrae.

The First Sighting of the Day

  Disembarking at the little harbour we traversed the island in 30 minutes, halting at the new lighthouse for a speedy lunch stop. I had wheedled my way onto the trip by way of cake based bribery, and I hastily handed out the blueberry cupcakes. Thoroughly refreshed and keen to get going, we began the perilous route around the base of the cliffs.

It would have been less than 30 mins if we weren't so distracted. (Whatever they saw, I didn't)

Its hard to get a picture of anyone when they don't have their bins to their face.

Shona hands over our first feathery find

Unfortunately its a bit to young for ID

I will spare you the details of the smell, which was... noticeable, and skip to the views. The Shag colony is very healthy and has whitewashed the dark granite. Tucked away on ledges and in the crevices were untidy nests, some holding up to 3 chicks; Jen and Dawn quickly got to work, scaling the scree to hand down their complaining occupants.

Sean joins Jen and Dawn on a perilous clamber for Shags

Eventually it was decided that Lucy and I should have a go, and Bernie took us to a particularly easily accessible nest. I was handed my victim, and was instructed on how to safely attach the ring (which is more difficult than the girl's had made it look), and I then replaced my disgruntled friend back on his ledge.

point its bum that way....
Me and MY shag

On the way back to the ferry we chanced upon a lone Oystercatcher chick. It seemed rude not to ring it too. Here I am holding it...

Me + Oyc

...isn't it a beaut! From here it was just a short slog over the bouldery shore, up a flight of rickety stairs, up a ridiculously steep hill, across the island top and down the slope to the harbour, and the rib waiting to take us back to the boat. But the fun doesn't stop there. On the way back to Millport we saw 4 Harbour Porpoises, countless (as in I didn't count) Guillemots and a few Gray and Harbour Seals.

Great Company, Great Day!

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