We saw our first puffins of the year yesterday.
We’d had the first lot of our professionally printed leaflets delivered, and, eager to get them out to as many places as possible, we did a drive down the length of mainland, dropping them off at appropriate places along the way.
The weather was doing that madly changeable thing it does in Shetland – rain thundering on the roof of the car and working the wipers to within an inch of their lives one minute, sun beating down and forcing us to open the windows the next.
We stopped next to Sumburgh airport to give Bert a chance to have a run around at Virkie beach, and there we saw shelducks and dunlin as well as fulmars looking very odd and out of place, lying on the sand. I guess there’s a shortage of cliffs round there…
It’s quite odd to be walking along the beach with a windsock just above you, and FlyBe jets taking off over your head. We did a bit of cockling again, and it was much more successful than our previous attempt, at least in the sense that the ones we found were actually alive. We still only found four of them, though, so we put them back.
We stopped off at the Sumburgh Hotel to drop off some leaflets and a poster and have one of their very excellent hot chocolates, and decided that, since we were there and we knew the puffins had arrived, it would be worth going up to the lighthouse for a look.
It was worth going just for the view of Fitful Head from the lighthouse, cloud shadows and patches of light chasing across the headland.
It’s not just the puffins that have arrived – the auks are all here in force, the guillemots and razorbills colonising the cliffs already. Even the major building work that’s going on at the lighthouse itself doesn’t seem to have dissuaded them. And, lo and behold, there was a funny-looking little fella with his colourful beak and sad pierrot eye emerging from a burrow, muddy faced and pigeon-toed. I don’t think you can ever get tired of looking at puffins.