Wednesday 6 June 2012

Bye Bye MV Island Sky

Well hard to believe another three weeks have passed, and my time aboard the MV Island Sky has ended.  Just on the train south from Edinburgh, heading for Chester to stay with Sue Flood to catch up for a night.

The last cruise was incredible, with fantastic weather almost throughout.  Sunshine and more sunshine in Scotland, and although we missed Fair Isle due to strong winds and not being sure we would be able to land, we did everything else we planned.  St Kilda was outstanding, with it being (I think) my seventh visit there, and I’ve managed to land everytime...a pretty good record considering.  It is a very weather dependent landing, and so I have been lucky to date.  We had beautiful sunshine the whole day, and landed in the morning and then zodiac cruised around Dun in the afternoon.  Managed to snap some nice fulmar shots in the morning, as well as a St Kilda wren, and perhaps the highlight of the day for me was showing a gentleman whose father had written the first modern scientific paper on the wren, one of the birds in question.  Very cool.

During the zodiac cruise there were thousands of puffins along the island and on the water, and so we had great views of them, plus all the other regulars including guillemots and kittiwakes.  Some superb cruising through caves and arches, and stunning colours in the water.  A great afternoon and then finished with a cruise past the stacks and Boreray with 60,000 breeding pairs of gannets.

Next day was Inverewe Gardens in the morning and the Summer Isles in the afternoon, with another glorious day of sunshine.  Great views from the top of Tanera Mor.  The following day in Shetland was again sunny, but breezy (hence missing Fair Isle) and so we made the usual stops in the morning and then some time in Lerwick in the afternoon.  Lots of Shetland ponies around and starlings were feeding chicks in the stonewalls around Jarlshof.  Sumburgh Head had a few puffins coming out of their burrows, so managed a couple of snaps, but nothing to rival some of my shots from last year.

Yesterday was on Orkney, with the odd shower of rain, and quite cold, but the sun shone every now and then.  We had spectacular views of two short-eared owls from the bus, which was great.  The afternoon was at sea as we headed down to Leith...arriving early this morning.

So now I have a night with Sue, then four nights with Mum and Dad, before flying to Norway for the next adventure!  Some photos below, and a lot more on my Eco-Vista facebook page.

Fulmar hanging in the air

Fulmars hanging out on the cliffs


Hanging out

Love the feathers on the forewing

Come on then!


The cemetery on St Kilda

Village Bay

Soay sheep wool

St Kilda wren

Looking on

Starling with food for its babies

The teenagers

The cliffs of Dun

An awesome cruise around Dun

Light in the water

Oh yeah, look at that water!

Heading to the stacks and Boreray

Stac Lee with gannets, gannets, gannets!

Northern gannet passing


Immature gannet

Stac an Armin, with more gannets

The Summer Isles

Common seals on the beach at Shetland

Shetland ponies...on Shetland of course!

Starlings lining up

Lil' pony

Coming in for a look

My my, what a big snout I have!

Common guillemots at Sumburgh Head

Puffin having a stretch

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