Consider this post as a follow-up to my post three weeks ago showing some northern gannets. Here we can see the same problem, I mentioned in that post: material from lost fisher nets is used for building nests instead of algae.
These little guys are preparing for their breeding season. They build their nests side by side on these small ledges. Different to other sea birds, gannets build nests. They use algae as nesting material. Nowadays, they also use wasted parts of fish nets and other plastic materials. While algae decay over time, the artificial material fish nets and such consist of, don’t decay. Instead, it’s a huge danger for fish, dolphins, whales and for fish-catching birds. The material can’t be bitten through when the head, a foot or a wing gets entangled by the material. In that case the animal usually has to die.
It’s mid January and the northern gannets are already preparing their nest for the upcoming breeding season. The warm light might fool you. After a quite mild winter they appeared very early. They use lost fishing nets for building their nests. Unfortunately, this is also a serious danger for them. Think of a wing, the head or a foot gets entangled. Than, no-one is able to help them. The cliffs are too steep for a human.
northern gannet / Basstölpel (Morus bassanus)
… from another re-visit: I was on Helgoland again.
I met with some friends on Helgoland and so I don’t edited many photos up to now. Nevertheless, I assembled a gallery of images for you. 🙂 It’s attached at the end of this post, as usual.
You know, during winter the gray seals get their babies – right in the winter here in the northern hemisphere. And we went, to see the babies 🙂
Unfortunately, the baby season was short this winter: nearly all of the seals gave birth during November and December 😦 Thus, they already left their babies alone, because they don’t need mother-milk anymore. So, we found several groups of adult seals and groups of growing children resting on the beaches. That’s not, what we expected to see, although they have had a very hight rate of new-born seals this winter: over 300 new-born gray seals in one season!
Luckily, we were able to watch two late nativities last week: #315 arrived on Wednesday and #316 on Thursday. A new record!
Here on Helgoland we have many free-living gray seals. They are the biggest free-living predator in Germany. An adult weights about 300 kg (> 660 pounds). They are here at home and allow us, to visit them. No fences between them and us and no fence to keep them from running away. They come and go following their own decision. As long as we behave properly, they will stay and don’t harm anyone.
But, there is much more to see. We were able to watch lots of guillemot in the cliffs of the main island (Helgoland has a small side-island called Düne, where you can find the seals) and even some northern gannets. Wow! They came very, very early to their breeding place this year. Helgoland is well-known for being an important breeding place of the guillemots.
Although, it’s winter now, we have had fantastic weather for taking photographs. Only one day with snow and hail storms, while the other days were sunny, but cold. Temperatures below 0°C, and a moisture of nearly 100%. Thus, it felt way colder, than it really was. Nevertheless, we were outside all day, despite the weather. But, we have had fantastic natural light – for the seals and much more for the birds. It will last a few weeks for choosing and editing these fantastic photographs.
Just in case, anyone of you is interested in attending a seal photographing workshop during next winter, drop me a line. I’m considering to offer a 2 or 3 day workshop for a max of 5 participants (minimum 3). You’ll be faced to a fantastic island with high cliffs and soft beaches, fresh air without traffic pollution (only electric cars are allowed on Helgoland), friendly people and the really amazing animals.
Helgoland and Düne are parted by water, crossed by a ferry several times a day. Once, both islands were Helgoland. The people from Hamburg used Helgoland as a stone pit to build their city from the red sand stone. A very heavy storm broke the small remain between the two parts of Helgoland and left two islands.