Saturday, 20 June 2009

Isle of May

Got up at 6.45 am and out the house by 8.00 am. I`d pre- booked the ferry after last weeks disapointment to this famous "Jewel of the Firth" lying 5 miles out to sea so I didn`t want to miss it again. (You just phone up and leave your name).
Didn`t feel guilty about Alex as I got the distinct impression he wouldn`t pay the £18 fare needed ("It doesn`t even have a trig?") and I didn`t want to miss my puffins for another year now I had a better camera this time around.
Easy drive up via the M8,Forth road bridge and Glenrothes listening to stirring themes from Zulu(the film soundtrack) then Atlanta`s finest- Cat Power booming out from my cheap stereo got me to an already vibrant Anstruther 2 hours later and checked in at the kiosk.There was already a queue forming and 2 people who hadn`t pre- booked ahead were turned away.
Can`t believe how popular this little jaunt has become nowadays.
Boat was jampacked but my fellow passengers were a friendly lot,mixed young and old from all over the world and UK wide going by the accents.
As we were heading for a nature reserve there were some serious birdwatchers on board with cameras to match.The usual big zoom guys, a large furry microphone man and assorted giant binoculars you could probably kill anything lumbering across the african plains with.
I was almost ashamed to pull out my own tiny zoom in public.It was such a wee winkle.
It was a flat calm crossing and an hour later,with no puking, we landed on bird central, home to around 200,000 seabirds on a slim blade of rock 2 klms long.Roughly 30,000 guillemots,twice that many puffins, lesser numbers of razorbills,terns,shags and eider ducks plus a large breeding population of grey seals.
I was one of the first off the boat and got busy with my tiny pocket zoom.
Puffins were everywhere, whirring around in the air above our heads like chunky little clockwork toys
The one picture I really wanted though was the beak stuffed with sand eels.The classic shot.
I could bore the ass off you for ages with puffin shots as I took over a hundred so here`s some other birds.According to the handout guide its only shags on the island but I didnt see any crests on some of these.Cormorants perhaps?
Apart from the wildlife there is also a long history (5000 years) of people living here.Monks,pirates,smugglers,lighthouse keepers and even a small village at one time.
Now its only the nature wardens but there is a small bothy in the low lighthouse that you can book for a stay on the rock.
You only get 2 to 3 hours on the island but its enough as its fairly small and keeps the human disruption from impacting on the birds too much.
You have to keep to the marked paths but even at that there were puffins waiting to get near their burrows with beakfuls of sand eels too shy to brave the massed cameras assembled nearby.
Any place like this is a fine balancing act between accomodating wildlife and tourists.
Still, at least they are not getting bombed,eaten or shot at as in times past.
All too soon it was time to go and folk shuffled reluctantly back to the boat with memories and pictures.

Arrived back in a now sunny Anstruther at 3 o,clock. ( It had been dry but dull when we left)
Having driven a good way to get here I was in no hurry to rush back with the day improving so I decided to walk from Anstruther along a section of the Fife coastal path to St Monans around 5 klms away. This is a nice section with sandy beaches, clifftop villages and history thrown in.
Its also nice to walk along the edge of folks back gardens in summer as you never know what you might find on the Costa del Fife.

There was even an old salt works near St Monans.A time when salt was much harder to come by which gives its name to Prestonpans and Saltcoats.
As usual I was too late yet again for the St Monans sea queen festival. (Boo Hoo!) a yearly tradition in this little fishing town I`ve always been curious to see for myself.
Never mind.Somewhat wearily I headed up through the empty harbour filled with fluttering bunting,evidence all around me of a gala day packing up , to arrive here!!
As you can see this had everything you might need in a bus shelter as long as you weren`t looking for a pleasant interior or a seat. Bus shelters nowadays offer little comfort if you are elderly or infirm. (Not talking about myself here)
I flopped down against the outside wall, watching swallows skim over the still green corn fields enjoying the sun until the bus arrived after 20 minutes.
Big crowd of good looking Goth girls got off the bus as I got on.Really cute dark makeup but a bit too worldy wise to be sea queens I`d suspect.Probably been sea queens a few years ago though.They sure do breed `em beautiful in St Monans judging by these fine examples.
No photos as I`m quite fond of my teeth.
Sadly, at my time of life,a big feed is all I`m after at the end of a long hot day so drove home thinking about food in kitchen and what I was going to do to it.
I decided I was going to give it a right good seeing to and here it is............
Boy ! What a feed !! Couldn`t wait to chow down on this masterpiece.Lashings of curry powder and spices and a wee cheeky tin of beans and sausage as a garnish.
Then this ..
Man! What a Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Fairly comprehensive account of your day out Bob.
The only thing lacking is detail of your bowel movements :-)

Anonymous said...

As luck would have it I just happen to have several photos depicting that as well.I usually post them on a different site.
But seeing as how you,re that keen if you send a self addressed envelope.....

Anonymous said...

...and I thought it would be a couple of in depth comments about puffins!

Great post Bob - must take a trip out there myself.