To the north of Westray the Island becomes more and more desolate. Grass becomes shorter and bare rocks peek out from behind cushions of Thrift. There, the Arctic Terns make their homes.
It’s rugged today, with a sea haar.
The Terns seem so delicate and out of place here.
The turquoise sea is foaming below the cliffs, with cracked blocks of rock, in regular and irregular patterns, strewn across the coast.
One of the Terns has caught a fish after diving into the sea. The fish is bright metallic orange and a shocking contrast with the plain deep red of its bill.
There are rock arches all along the coast. At the edge, it is so salty, so windswept and exposed that nothing except a few lichens can grow.
The Terns are intensely social, greeting one another, chasing one another and occasionally seeming to harass one another. This one has a Tern on its tail.
Below is a large fissure in the rock, with the echo of waves crashing into the cliffs.
This fish will make a chick a decent meal. They grow quickly. Despite appearances they are the hardiest of birds.
There are large sea caves, sunken sink-holes and hidden coves to explore everywhere. There must be some spectacular sights visible from a boat.
Arctic Terns don’t appreciate potential threats to their offspring and are vocal and violent with any intruders. They call, swoop and flock to intimidate whoever dares to come close to their nesting territory.
I think it’s time to leave them in peace.