The Island hosts large colonies of nesting Arctic Terns. This amazing bird made a great impression on me and it has become one of my firm favourites.
The Arctic Tern was once known as the "Sea Swallow", describing its slender shape as it swoops over the water with extreme grace and speed. It is very beautiful. But there is much more to admire about this species. It is very feisty, showing no fear in defending its nesting grounds by attacking any perceived intruders, including us.
We stuck to the footpaths which wind through their nesting areas but it's necessary to wear a hat or hold something over your head as they attack quite fearlessly, screaming as they swoop in to peck at your highest point.
I discovered that my 500mm lens was quite useless when it came to photographing this bird. Instead I fitted my little extreme wide-angle Sigma 8 - 16 mm lens and held it up as the Terns came in fast and low, firing shots in multiple bursts. It was the only way to capture the action.
Occasionally I would capture on camera the bird's third weapon of attack. Apart from its sharp beak and intimidating screams, it likes to fire streams of excrement at the enemy, me in this case. A waterproof hat and jacket was the best protection.
It was not all feisty aggression however. We witnessed many instances of birds passing fish back and forth between mates, obvious signs of bonding and affection.
Perhaps the most impressive fact to consider about the Arctic Tern, is that this lovely little graceful, elegant bird travels about 90,000 km (56,000 mi) annually, by far the longest migration known in the animal kingdom. The young reared here will, once fledged, fly off to Antarctica for the the Southern Summer, and six months later will set off once again to return. They certainly clock up the air-miles!
Retired seafarer living in Frigiliana, a white village in Malaga Province in southern Spain. Married to Elena. Keen bird and wildlife watchers.
More interesting sites