Sunday, 8 May 2011
Waiting for a boat
I woke this morning to a holiday atmosphere on the island as it was pouring with rain and blowing an easterly hoolie. This meant that the researchers didn't have to go out to do fieldwork so some lay in bed until mid morning. Those of us who had other things to do that weren't weather dependant had to keep plugging away, for me it was the monthly report and event planning. The May Princess was cancelled as the easterly winds were piling the waves into the harbour entrance but there were 5 Spaniards that were trying to get out to the Lowlight to spend 4 days photographing the seabirds. So a RIB was scheduled for 1500 and Rinchen and I went down with the quad bike to meet them and carry their gear up to their lodgings. The RIB was late but that is never a problem as I love waiting for the boat. It is time that you can't be doing anything else so you have to just sit down by the jetty and watch what is going on around you. And there is always something to see. Today the harbour was still filled with eiders but the frenzy of courtship has cooled as there are few females left to mate with. Instead the males seem to sit around on the rocks or preen or surf on the waves coming through the harbour entrance. What the kittiwakes were doing I am not sure but a group had also gathered down on the rocks. Some seemed to be catching small insects off the weed while others just roosted. A stern looking greater black backed gull (shortened to 'Geeb' on the island) stood motionless thinking bad thoughts in contrast to the busy, hyper oystercathcers. When I took a few steps the herring and lesser black backed gulls yelled abuse at me until I stood still again. And all of this you can miss when you are rushing around so I never mind waiting for the boat. When the RIB came in it needed some careful helming to avoid the rocks in all the wash and surf but the Spaniards look pleased to be here or at least to be off the boat. Their induction to the Lowlight and the island proved to be a bit of a challenge as their English is sparse and my Spanish is rubbish so we never got to go into the finer details of the chemical toilet but they will work it out. Sooner rather than later perhaps as I gave them a bundle of May rhubarb as a welcome but they had never seen it before and seemed to think that it went raw into salad! Hope they followed my cooking instructions.
I was also cooking tonight, only 8 people in the cottages so not as bad as when Fluke Street in full and 16 sit down at the table all ferousiouly hungry after day outside. Even when cooking you have half an eye on the window, binoculars close to hand to check the weather, state of the harbour and for any birds moving through.
This evening has turned out fantastic, the wind had dropped but a huge 9 ft swell kept rolling in on the east side of the island and a beautiful sunset was a backdrop to the lighthouses.