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.
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.
That beak can give a nasty peck.
There’s certainly a lot of behaviour going on here:
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.
They are noisy. There’s an insistent alarm call which is really grating.
It’s only for a hundred metres or so that I have to run the gauntlet.
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 Terns are beautiful but exhausting.
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.