For the purposes of this post, I’ve interpreted the word “flock” as three or more of the same species. In photographs which I have taken of “flocks” in the true sense of the word, the birds are so small and far away as to look like specks of dust on the lens!

Summer is the time to spot seabirds which migrate to our shores to breed.

A truly amazing place to watch seabirds is the Isle of May, off the coast of Fife in Scotland. Carefully regulated day-trips in small boats are organised from the seaside village of Anstruther. (Weather Permitting!)

The Isle of May is home to an incredible array of seabirds, with up to 200,000 nesting in a good year.

One sunny summer afternoon there, I photographed Guillemots, Puffins, Kittiwakes, Terns, Gannets, to name but a few of the species we saw.

A trio of Razorbills posed nicely on the edge of a cliff:

Razorbills ©HelenBushe

From April to August there can be as many as 40,000 pairs of Puffins on the Isle of May. Puffins feed on Sand Eels, as you can see here:

Puffins on Isle of May ©HelenBushe

A good time to see species which normally live far out at sea, is in the depths of winter when they move into warmer coastal waters .

I zoomed in on a large flock of Eiders just offshore in the North Sea to focus on these three males:

Male Eiders ©HelenBushe

Whilst at the other side of the country, the West, we enjoy the spectacle of many thousands of Whooper Swans which fly down to us from Iceland to overwinter. Up to a couple of thousand come each year to a reserve near us. Sometimes you hear their wingbeats before you see them:

Whoopers in Winter Sun ©HelenBushe

Here are a few of the many on a frozen lake. (Our ice must be warmer than that in Iceland):

Whooper Swans ©HelenBushe

This post was inspired by Lisa’s Weekly Bird Challenge: Flocks of Birds.

(I hope she agrees with my definition of how many birds it takes to make a flock!)


bushboy · 13 September 2020 at 00:00

Pufind….. you have Puffins so love them. On my list of birds to see. Great flock collection Helen

    Helen Bushe · 13 September 2020 at 07:01

    Thanks Brian. Hope you get to see puffins sometime. They’re my favourite bird too.

Lisa Coleman · 12 September 2020 at 11:32

Oh Helen, these are wonderful! Puffins are a dream bird for me! I guess we need to come visit you sometime and you can take us birding! Every bird you listed today, I’ve never seen! Very nice shot getting the Whoopers in flight and the Eider flapping his wings. Wozzer!!! This is a wonderful post! Loved it!

    Helen Bushe · 12 September 2020 at 12:46

    How you would love the Isle of May (google Isle of May. Boat trips. Anstruther). Visitors have to be careful not to venture off the paths that criss-Cross the island, to avoid stepping on/ in a puffin burrow. It is a spectacular day out.
    Bring a hat to wear getting off the boat as you’ll be dive-bombed by nesting Arctic Terns (seriously) and they have very sharp beaks!
    Your challenge is good for me, its reminding me of all the birds I’ve been lucky enough to see over the years.

      Lisa Coleman · 13 September 2020 at 14:35

      Oh, you have just made a decision on where to go when I come to Scotland! It is #2 on my list just below Ireland. I might have to move it up to #1. I just read about it online. Lighthouses are my second favorite muse! This is an added plus to going to this island. Yay! 🙂

Tranature - quiet moments in nature · 12 September 2020 at 08:22

Beautiful images Helen and what a treat to see these birds, I especially love how you captured the whooper swans in flight

    Helen Bushe · 12 September 2020 at 10:10

    Thanks Xenia. It’ll soon be time for the Whoopers to come back!

Weekly Bird Challenge: Arctic Tern. - PHOTOPHILE · 30 November 2020 at 20:21

[…] tiny Isle of May, off the Fife coast in Scotland, is renowned for its many, many thousands of puffins in the breeding season . But when you get off the small ferry that takes you over to the island, […]

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