Attacked by Arctic Terns

I’m off for a walk on the Westray coast. Today I’m heading from Mae Sands to the Knowe o’ Skea. It’s not very far. It’s a bit of a scramble over rocks and rough grass. There’s a sound noise and I’m being attacked.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

It’s an Arctic Tern. I’ve obviously strayed into its territory. It can’t help but see me as a threat. If I’d been at the far north of the Island I would have expected it, as there’s a colony there.

There are even more on North Ronaldsay.

They are all fired-up with righteous aggression and are about to make me pay for my unwanted intrusion into their lives.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

That beak can give a nasty peck.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

There’s certainly a lot of behaviour going on here:

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

The light’s good and as I stumble along the rocks, trying to look where I’m going at the same time as watching for imminent attack, I take a few photographs in passing.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

They are noisy. There’s an insistent alarm call which is really grating.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

It’s only for a hundred metres or so that I have to run the gauntlet.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

I turn and see one coming straight for my head. I can either duck or wave a stick. I don’t have a stick.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Arctic Terns are beautiful but exhausting.

Arctic Tern - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

Thankfully the Knowe o’ Skea is beautiful and restful. I watch the waves roll in and enjoy the sea spray on the rocks. It’s very calming. That’s good, because I’ve got to mentally prepare myself to walk back and go through it all again.

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