Photographing Irish Sea Birds

great to have a chance to try my photographic eye with a completely different genre to my regular subjects. Slipped in just before I get really busy with our wedding work. I took the opportunity to shoot wild sea birds off the coast of Ireland on the Saltee with my good friend guy Edwardes. This is a particularly physical workshop due to the need for fishing boats, dinghy and very steep climbs across quite difficult but stunning terrain. The photographic opportunities are very rich and very much worth the effort. Due to the restrictions on the islands, we had to vacate during lunch and return at 5:30pm, which allowed us time to sleep during the early afternoon. But it did mean that the hard travel to the Gannet colony was doubled up most days. If you want some stunning wild sea bird photos…then I really recommend Guy’s workshop.

Day 4:

Day 3:

Today was the most productive in results. I got so many great images it has been tough to cull the weaker images…there’s so much good stuff here! With two trips and fairly nice light in the evening, the weather was pretty kind too. Guillemots were quite lively today and the Shag put in a few moves. Razorbills were quite plucky and the Puffins were fantastic, especially on our favorite rock. The wind was a bit stronger, which slowed down the landing Gannets, which made them easier to photograph. I wanted to concentrate on my Bird portraits…which I really enjoyed. Each Bird Species put on quite a lot of behaviour and were at times very amusing…especially when on caught a fish and wanted to show it off to the other birds. We ended on landscape of the islands with quite a nice cloud pattern. I managed to get a good shot of a Puffin on my favorite rock with the setting sun colours behind, and then a strong silhouette which I am very pleased with!

Day 2:

In the morning session, we returned to the Gannet colony and turned our attention to landings against darker backgrounds. Then landings in general. Later we spotted a puffin on a rock which looked great. So we set up around this particular rock to see what would happen. Various Razorbills came, fought and went and the puffin returned several times to our rapidly becoming favorite rock. We found a pair of sea gull chicks, which were great to photograph from a distance. On the way back to the boat, we spotted a Fulmar. In the afternoon session (a bit of a shock after only a few hours sleep) we started by attempting Razorbill’s flybys….these chaps are really really fast and these are hard to capture! I used my 7D and 70-200/f2.8 L IS II for reach and speed. Then we returned to the Gannet Colony for a few more shots and ended the day with our favorite rock and playful Puffin. I used my flash to add a little fill as the light was pretty flat by dusk….no sunset unfortunately.

Day 1:

After a long journey to Fishguard, travelling all through the night. We had calm but tiring ferry to Rossclare and a short drive to Kilmore…we had a spot of breakfast and few hours kip ready for our first boat ride to the Saltee islands. I was exhausted but very excited and eager to photograph some wild sea birds in the afternoon. I hadn’t realised how hard the steep ascent to the Gannett colony was. With my large 400mm on my back, it was especially hard on my legs! I’m used to carrying some gear at weddings, but nothing like this. The smell of seaweed at the beach area was particularly pungent and very slippery. The Gannett Colony was very loud and quite large. We stayed until dusk, shooting a variety of portraits, take off, landing, flight and courtship photographs. It was an education and quite an experience…and thankfully I escaped the flying guano! Finding isolation and simplicity was very hard going with such a dense population of Gannets…but very I managed a number of images that I’m particularly pleased with! There were various backgrounds that we could shoot against, which offered a lot of variety to our photographs.