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Seabird Spectacular

The back end of April saw me co-lead my second Natures Images Trip of 2017 with Chris Gomersall.  We were headed for the Welsh and Irish coastlines to focus on two specific sea bird colonies – both the Gannet and Puffin. Our first destination was the Saltee Islands and after meeting up with the group in Fishguard we made our way across the Irish Sea to Rosslare.

For the next three days our focus would be on the Gannets of Great Saltee Island. This is one of the premier locations for photographing this elegant seabird and the birds here are very accessible. Our first day on the island was used to orientate the group around the colony and look at the various shooting options. The Gannets were displaying together well and also bringing in lots of nesting material throughout the day. A very productive first days photography. Our second day was thwarted by strong winds and heavy rain which meant crossing to the island was impossible. However, this did give us valuable time to review our images and think about how we would approach our next visit to the island.

Our second visit to the island was far more productive for the group. The conditions were bright and overcast with the wind in the right direction to take some terrific flight images. The Gannet colony here is very cluttered and busy with hundreds of nesting birds so including separation in your imagery can be challenging. We discussed as a group on our review day the importance of being low and defusing the foreground to create a simple image of the Gannet in the background.

Great Saltee also provided us with other birds to photograph. With a few Puffins lining the cliff tops, some of the group split to go and spend time with these whilst others enjoyed photographing the Choughs and Razorbills.

After 3 nights in Ireland it was time to set sail back to Wales to then head to our second destination – Skomer Island. Our main focus here would be Puffins and after slightly iffy weather on Saltee we were delighted to see that the forecast was looking bright for our first evening. After the day visitors has departed, we headed down to the famous Wick for a gorgeous evenings photography in stunning lighting conditions.

Our second day on the island was just as productive. A beautiful sunrise was followed by a bright and overcast day where the group spent time exploring the island photographing Short Earred Owls and Little Owls. As the evening was drawing in, we could not believe our luck as the clouds broke away giving us another superb evening back out on the Wick with the puffins returning from the sea in perfect light conditions. A real treat for the group which ended a very good weeks photography. Thank you to everyone who came on this trip, you were all great company and I look forward to seeing you all again on future adventures.

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