Following dawn there was an eerie period of stillness, an absence of wind, a calm sea, and most noticeable of all, an absence of sound which, at the coast, gives rise to an almost surreal effect. The grey, flat surface of the sea merged with a grey monotone sky, bound together by a far off wall of sea fog. An altogether strange cocoon of a place to be in!!
Nonetheless, birds were on the move and having to work hard in the calm conditions to make progress. Lines of adult Gannet beat their steady way southwards and fragmented groups and strings of Manx Shearwater did likewise with constant mechanical flight. No uplift today could be mustered from the canvas of stillness pervading the whole area. Auk parties moved north and south and even local Arctic Terns moved in silence to and from their breeding colony on a nearby shingle beach to feeding areas to the north. The local Fulmar colony is now abandoned after what I suspect has been a poor year and,indeed, I never even saw a bird offshore. Two Great Skua flew south in a very determined way and, other than a far off group of small waders, which were probably Dunlin, proved to be the only real migrants of the morning. Behind me , the aroma of a peat fire hanging in the air accompanied by the pulsating throb of a fishing boat's engine as it left the nearby harbour captured what living in the Hebrides can mean, the exception being the weather conditions!!
Finally moving home I came across a group of four young Stonechats suggesting even second broods might now be around, a useful confirmation after a recent period of quiet. At home increasing numbers of Meadow Pipit and an active mixed group of Goldfinch and Lesser Redpoll indicated we are on the cusp of autumn.
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