Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Corncrakes on Iona & Staffa sailing - Day 3

Corncrake delight
Walking straight towards me
The Strut
Heading for cover
Black Guillemots
Fingals Cave, Staffa
Staffa rock formation

Our third day plans were changed when Mull Charters cancelled as there wasn’t enough people for the boat. Whilst disappointed initially our day worked out perfectly. An early start took us west down to Fionnport where we headed out to Staffa, a small island to the north of mull. The small island is home to Fingals cave as well as breeding Puffins and Black Guillemots. On the crossing we also found 2 Arctic Terns, 4 Common Terns, Gannets, a Great Skua, Black-throated Diver and several Great Northern Divers.

Instead of retuning to Mull we were dropped off on Iona to see if we could see the Corncrakes that had just returned from their migration from east Africa. After a quick recharge with a coffee and a rock cake we took up position behind the fire station. Within a couple of minutes I picked up a call fairly close but couldn’t see anything. These seemed to be the regular occurrence, heard but not seen. Then I picked up a very loud call (crex-crex) coming from a domestic garden which sounded close to the patch. Bingo ! As I looked through the mesh fence I could see my first Corncrake. I was happy with this but then the bird came out and walked across the patch and then called repeating, over and over.. The bird showed really well for about 30 minutes giving me every opportunity to take some photos of a lifetime. Very lucky indeed. I was quite surprised by the small size of the bird, about half the size of a Grey Partridge.

We returned to hotel buzzing after an amazing day. The trip had certainly worked out as we wanted.

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