Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (Consort) hired a small cruise ship to take a sail round the Northern Isles of Scotland. It was a Royal annual trip when they had the provision of the Royal Yacht Britannia. On route, the yacht would berth in the Far North and the Royal family would all disembark, (lots of them) to go and visit the dowager Queen Mother, who would be resident at her Northerly castle. She died nine years ago aged 101 years. According to one of the newspapers, Prince Charles took over the role of the [deceased[ Queen Mother, by greeting his parents at the quayside. What a macabre thought. Then the whole entourage disappeared off to the
We went out in the small boat. Hubby to fish, me to observe him doing so. We passed the berthed cruise ship, dressed overall, off-loading large well covered containers, likely to have been luggage and right royal rubbish.
There were strong tides and out at sea, the small boat rolled, vigorously at times, from side to side. One fish was caught on the line.
Sea birds began to cluster round the boat to be in a position to grab any fishy spoils that might come their way. The boat continued to sway and move quickly with the tide towards the bay.
We motored out again into deep tidal waters. Two small fish were returned to the sea, though one was not very sprightly and was taken by a Great Skua.
Mollymacks, (Fulmars) appeared, the only birds that challenge the Great Skuas, attempting to get a bite of the unexpected catch. The boat continued to roll. Some more fish were caught and my camera recorded the scene.
The tide became stronger still, the boat continued to sway. A headache developed and I began to yawn. Hubby noticed. I sipped some bottled water and carried on taking pictures. The yawning continued. "We're going back, you don't look good," hubby said.
More birds arrived to battle for the fish and to join the current waiting group. Some young birds were calling to parents to feed them. I urged hubby to gut his fish and feed them. He did so, very quickly. More pictures of sea bird behaviour, the boat listed and swayed, and I felt really queasy.
A young herring gull swooped attempting to take the fish held by the Skua; the Herring Gull can swallow a fish whole. The Great Skua is more interested in breaking the skin to get to the nourishing fish liver and pecks at the fish, sometimes dropping it. This is the point where it could lose its prize and nearly did.
To our surprise Gannets showed up. They also wanted a share of the food chain, it was becoming quite a scrum.
Nearing the harbour, a Great Skua flew towards us, swooping close to my head, I moved to protect myself; a close-up photo opportunity missed. I prepared the camera in case the bird returned: it did. No picture that time either of the Skua...... I had to dodge away from it, the darn thing was mobbing me! I was obviously a better looking morsel than hubby.