Return to The Isle of May

A ritual of sorts has been enacted: the all but annual trip to the Isle of May (2007 version was recorded here). Good news for me, since it’s one of my favourite places. Less predictable in its consequences for readers of this blog, as it leads inexorably and inevitably to … my photos! Hooray.

That’s the Isle in question, and very pretty it is too, but here’s the real reason I actually take the hour long boat trip required to reach it:

The birds, obviously. But there’s no denying the place itself is so extremely pleasant it might be worth even if there was nothing with wings within ten miles of it:

The last of the bird pictures, by the way, is an Arctic tern. These are heroes of the bird world, going from the Antarctic to the Arctic and back again every year (and no, Scotland is not quite in the Arctic – for all that it feels like it occasionally. I guess our Arctic terns are ever so slightly less motivated than most of their brethren). Watching them, if you take a moment to reflect that not so very long ago these very birds were surfing the breezes of the Antarctic Ocean, perhaps even dodging Antipodean icebergs, it blows your mind just a little. I think they’re fantastic.

That sentiment is not, it has to be said, mutual. This year, the tern colony has taken a collective decision to locate itself right next to the landing stage. To reach the boat, therefore, you have to run the gauntlet of righteously agitated and protective parents. I am thus able to leave you with this world exclusive video. A brief (and I do mean brief, like 2 seconds brief, so pay attention) clip revealing, for the first time anywhere, the sound a fantasy author makes when the immensely well-travelled beak of an Arctic tern connects with his skull at high velocity:

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