The Shetland Islands, Puffins, 6th August 2012

 

From visiting all of those historical ruins, we moved around the coast to a Robert Stevenson lighthouse, built in 1821.  This lighthouse sits atop Sumburgh Head, the southern most tip of the Mainland, the biggest island in the Shetland group.  When this light was automated in 1991, the keepers’ houses were converted into holiday accommodation.  The lighthouse is protected as a category A listed building and is presently undergoing restoration work including the building of an Information Centre.

Of more importance to me than the lighthouse were the cliffs the lighthouse was built on. Sumburgh Head is a busy place in summer, when thousands of seabirds return to breed. Then the cliffs teem with birds such as kittiwakes, gullets, razorbills, fulmars and those great little characters, puffins.  I’d only seen fleeting glimpses of puffins before but here they were quite close. They were fascinating to watch… and photograph.

Puffin at Sumburgh Head   (P1000311 © DY of jtdytravels)

Puffins mate for life, and return to the same burrow every year. Laying only one egg, both parents take turns incubating their egg for around 40 days. Once the egg hatches, the adults are kept busy finding fish, particularly sandeels, to feed their hungry chick until it is ready to leave the burrow under the cover of darkness and fend for itself.

A pair of puffins   (P1000304 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Puffin (P1000329 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Puffin (P1000343 © DY of jtdytravels)

I’m quite sure that puffin photography could become quite addictive – they are such wonderfully interesting creatures.  I was mesmerised.

Puffin (P1000348 © DY of jtdytravels)

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There were other birds – like this gull. (P1000356 © DY of jtdytravels)

After spending lots of time’ with those puffins, I turned my attention to finding wild flowers.

 

Daisies at the cliffs (P1000321 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Puffin surrounded by grasses (P1000317 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Tiny, delicate, Eyebright, Euphrasi”Tufted Vetch”a sp.   (P1000361 © DY of jtdytravels)

 

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Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca (P1000359 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Cotton grass (P1000375 © Dy of jtdytravels)

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Monkey flower, Mimulus guttatus (P1000238 © DY of jtdytravels)

This beautiful Mimulus is not really a wild flower in the Shetland Islands.  It’s a naturalised garden escapee that originates in North America.

A stunning view (P1000371 © DY of jtdytravels)

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All this and wonderful views as well.  A day to remember.   D

Photography  ©  DY of jtdytravels

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