Nature Notes

Dust Devil, Raven Devil.

IMG_7057

A green woodpecker rolls and dips through the lower air like a paper plane folded from a page of colour supplement. His ‘yaffle’ laugh is slowed-down and languorous. He seem to wear spring’s colours in that season – all lime, lemon and sunlight-through-beech-leaves, but now, those same colours are of the coming autumn: the yellow fade of spent ash-leaves, a flash of scarlet, shades of milk chocolate.

Young buzzards are mewing constantly and adults are appearing alternately gap-winged in their moult. It is a good time to hunt for feathers. In flight, buzzards’ gleaming undersides are the same silver as the tin-foil paper-suns of knapweed, reflecting light after the thistledown has been teased out. A juvenile bird sits on the noticeboard of our little village green, eagle-eyeing the sward of drying hay. Concerted effort from villagers has brought this tiny mown oasis back for wildlife. Hand scythed and turned over with hay forks, it is a delight to see.

IMG_6889

 

On a still-hot day, acres of wild bird cover are in full flower. Tall, thick and joyfully full of scent, colour and life, we wade through phacelia plants bent low by enormous bumble bees. There are honey bees and hoverflies among kale and vetches, brimstone, red admiral, peacock and tortoisehell butterflies, small skippers and speckled woods everywhere. And hummingbirds from France – or possibly Africa: hovering on a blur of wings, proboscis like a long bill, hummingbird-hawk moths are every inch a tiny exotic bird. Here too is another exciting migrant; a clouded yellow butterfly on dark-bordered, marmalade wings.

Then, above the escarpment, the bewildering spectacle of a white mini-tornado, coming from the ground up, spinning fast. There is no wind. The ripe wheat-ears, bent meekly against their own swan-necks, shimmer, crackle, but do not move. Hot air has risen speedily from the bare stubble-ground below, through a pocket of cooler, low-pressure air and begun to turn, pulling in more hot air as it does so. It has quickened rapidly into a spinning vortex: a dust-devil! Something of an uncommon harvest phenomenon, I have seen them stir up hay or straw into a travelling chimney as the ‘straw-devil’ tracks along between windrows – but this one, this one is made of thistledown and has whipped up like a swarm of silver bees, rotating rapidly to a blur. The column widens, tilts forward and walks along the ridge before stopping abruptly. The thistle-seed parachutes are released from the dance and, in the absence of any wind, hang suspended like the ghost of a whirlwind – a tall, chalky smudge of an apparition – before the ravished down ‘fairies’, by slow increments, drift away.

IMG_7059

Along the down, later in the week, a wide chimney of ravens has formed, rotating in the updraft off the steep slope. We count twenty, then thirty; a handful of buzzards and kites spiralling up among them. The ravens pair up, mirror each other’s flight, rise to the top of the chimney, then dive, tumbling back down through the cooling tower of its centre. More birds arrive, and more; we count and recount, then spot others, so high as to be just pairs of simple black crosses, only the direction of flight indicating which end is which, their thick necks and long anvil beaks stuck out as much as their long diamond wedge tails. There are 50, 65, 70. They speak to each other in soft September ‘gowps’ and ‘cawps’ and we stand mesmerized, watching. A vortex of birds above the harvest, a dust devil of ravens. A season’s turning.

 

Advertisements

Nature Notes

Harvest, home.

IMG_7035

Patchy holiday weather, patchy harvest weather. The two go hand in hand of course – harvest and a holiday from school – a relic from when everyone was needed in the fields. We rush out to pull the washing in as the combine roars into the field as if it were on fire.

We are enveloped in a gold-grey dust-cloud.  Straw lines the gutters all the way to Hungerford, through it and beyond, festooning hedges all the way: the shining gold days of June and July stored in each fluttering yellow ribbon. At night, we go gleaning straw from windrows lying thick as gold plaits across the stubble. The uniform straws rudely spurt accumulated dew up the insides of our bare legs. John Barleycorn has the last word.

There are grain spills on the bends of the lanes, for the last of the farmland birds. Modern farming has become ‘an ecological holocaust’ (according to John Lewis-Stempel in The Running Hare) and harvest for me is a bitter-sweet romantic time when the recent rural past is perhaps at its most tangible. On this farm, the wild bird cover, nectar strips, beetle banks, grassy headlands, widening field margins and chalk grassland break up the chemical aggregation of the arable: rich seams of life and colour, joy and hope holding the patchwork together.

image (11)

The secret combe radiates the sun’s heat. The soil over chalk in this deep hidden valley is thin and dry and the plants are specialists; low growing, mat forming: even the thistles don’t bother with stems. Lie down in this fragrant, wild kitchen garden and your clothes keep the scent for days. Wild basil, calamint, cucumbery salad burnet, thyme on the raised castle mounds of anthills and wild marjoram all tremble with the life on them. Embroidered through are trefoils and bedstraws, a heather-haze of red bartsia, blue-violet self-heal, and eyebright: pansyish, purple veined, white with a splash of egg yolk. Scabious and harebells are sky-coloured. There are waves of butterflies, moths and bees with every jubilant step. The silhouettes of buzzards and kites rotate over it all with the shadowy arms of a windmill.

image (12)

We count the days down now and on a hot day, bookended by rainy ones, make a mad day-trip to beloved Bude. A bank of slate-grey cloud is mistaken prematurely for the sea and a hedgerow cloud of blue sloes for a patch of summer sky. The treat of a pretty beach hut with a yellow door helps us pack a week at the beach into one day. We swim in the sea-pool until the tide overwhelms it.

IMG_6951

Then one morning, the air is fresher with the tang of the sea in it, though we are miles from it – and the light has a softer, nostalgic quality. As my hand reaches for its practised turn on the smooth-worn handle of the kissing-gate, it is chill and damp on my palm; the gate wrapped and spun shut with spider silk that crackles when I open it.  The August-absence of birdsong slips into September and a robin sings its autumn lament. It makes such a catch in my heart and falters my steps.

Nature Notes

Seams, ridges, holes, pellets.

IMG_6711

In the park by the footpath, two big old ash trees are felled. They dropped branches in storms and sometimes, on still, benign days. I inspect their prone forms, paying my respects, investigating a canopy I wouldn’t normally have access to. Their deep grooved trunks and branches supported lichens and insects, sought after by the thin, curved bill of treecreepers. Hazelnuts are jammed in the grooves, posted like coins, by nuthatches.

The broad trunks are stepped with the sloping, ridged roofs of southern bracket fungus – a village upended by the fall; the dusky, spore-powdered angle of them protects the thick white lip beneath, so it gleams in contrast, like a horse’s shod hoof.

IMG_6709

One tree had been compromised by lightning strike, a black plumb line scorched down a major upright. Woodpeckers had made inroads, leaving a series of giant, neatly spaced needle holes down the black seam. The other tree had been de-stabilised from the north by a lone badger, tunnelling in between the toes of its roots, burrowing under its foundations. But felling the tree also exposed the extent of rot: the undersides of more bracket fungus, growing in the space where the heartwood had been, glow like small moons or flying saucers all the way up the close, warm, velvet-dark of the hollow trunk. There are still leaves on both trees. The smell of chainsaw exhaust lingers, curdles with the flowers of neighbouring sweet chestnuts; a distinctive scent of ivy bloom, unwashed linen and something else …

IMG_6706

There are owl pellets on the ground, below where the birds have roosted. I tease one apart – it appears to have blackbird feathers in it. Perhaps I know the bird that coughed up this cylindrical sarcophagus? One late, sultry night, with the bedroom windows flung wide, there was a sudden whumpf of a soft-buffered landing against glass and sill – then the frantic beating of wings and distress of a blackbird. By morning, it was obvious the hen bird had gone from the nest in the jasmine, along with her second brood.

IMG_6714

Another pellet lying on the fallen tree is not so easy to decipher. It looks like a classic owl pellet, grey, full of fur, feather, bone and beetle wing cases; yet it is far bigger than anything a tawny owl would cough up. Short-eared owls are here in winter and long-eared owls pass through at any time. Could it be? I pocket it, get out my books, search the internet, tweet. When the answer ricochets back instantly from my phone, it is from a friend who knows: foxy loxy. Sat on my writing desk is a fox poo. Old, unsmelling, but nevertheless … I just can’t fathom how it ended up on the side of a recently felled tree. Such mysteries, such connections.

Nature Notes

The Long Twilight.

IMG_6798

The domed hill is shedding chalk rivers of rain. Chains of bubbles slide past either side of the raised camber, as if there were otters beneath the slick, wet surface of this river-road. Yet, after another 12 hour deluge, the late evening is quiet and still.

Blackbirds are piping alarms from the wood. Urgent chinks of sound chipped off like flint-knapped sparks, catching fire into shrill screams. There are waves and volleys of other avian urgency: chaffinches, robins, the loud ticking-off of wrens and the repeated, crest-raising churring of tits. A tawny owl is under siege, half way up an oak, eyes tight shut. It hears me and floats silently off, like a chunk of bark detached from the tree, taking an unshakeable veil of tenacious little birds with it.

IMG_6668

I walk on though the grainy mugginess of the evening and hear two or three more groups of birds mobbing owls. By now, the calls belong less and less to the tits and finches and more to those singers with the largest, light-gathering eyes; the early risers and late-stayers, the blackbirds, thrushes, robins and wrens. The mobs become more mobile as the owls wake to hunt. The songbirds are late to relinquish the day – perhaps on second or third broods – and the owls are impatient to begin hunting; the nights are short enough. There is a fraught, fractious overlap: an uneasy twilight that lengthens inexorably into undefined boundaries.

A stoat appears ahead like a perky, too-long train. It hesitates to cross the open road, then bolts back, tail up like an unlit match on the last carriage, a stretch-limo streak of red, a fired elastic band: exit, pursued by blackbirds.

I climb to the fence between the field and wood, bordering the badger sett. Cobnuts gleam like milky fairy lights against dark hazel leaves. There is not a breath of wind to stir them. Before me is a great ski-slope of powdery chalk spoil, white as washing powder. I don’t have to wait long for the badgers; they crash and thump about and the growing cubs yikker in rough play – all unseen behind a wall of waggling nettles.

Then in full view, 5m away, one reverses out, hugging and scraping a pile of chalk as he comes, then powering it out behind with great, bear-like feet. My bare legs are showered in dust, and chalk cobbles roll down to my feet. I can hear his long claws clicking together. He looks up once – his black nose completely whitened, black stripes powdered out. The owls call now in earnest. Not a blackbird speaks. When I get home and take my boots off, they are white with chalkdust.

IMG_6764

Nature Notes

An Almanac of Anger & Hope.

IMG_6666

I don’t know at what point the melancholy strikes and despair seeps in, but I am sure there is a pattern: a seasonal almanac of frustration and bitterness.

Chalk grassland, rarer than rainforest, has been overgrazed for another year, resulting in no flowers so far, since April:  fewer butterflies, bees and other insects and all the birds that hunt them.

Only the first roadside metre of verges are being mown – a welcome concession. Yet still it is done where it is not needed, where natural growth is low and visibility good.  Pyramidal orchids, twayblade, broomrape and scabious (plants it is illegal to pick) lie in severed swathes. A self-heating mulch that kills twice over: the heaped sward encourages more nettles and docks that outcompete those remaining on the bank.

IMG_6651

The agronomist walks the crop with the farmer, planning further spraying. Nothing flies up around them as they walk into the silent wobble of a heat-haze. Around most fields there are 9m stewardship strips of glorious wildflowers. But around each field too, is a 10 or 20m strip of close-mown grass, formerly swaying with insects. It is not made for hay. It is not a gallop, no one has access to it or uses it. Again, the mulch sits on top, feeding nettles so that next year, a spray will be needed. It’s a stupid, pointless, damaging cycle.

On a walk, visiting family declare the landscape stunning (it is).  How green! There must be harvest mice in the fields! No, I say. This field, like most others, is a factory floor, a sterile laboratory!  I love the country here, profoundly. But it is broken.

IMG_6653

I rally, showing them 4sqm of thistles and knapweed around a gateway, by way of explanation. It boils with bees, hoverflies, scarlet tiger moths, skippers, marbled white, meadow brown, comma, tortoiseshell and even brown argus butterflies. Yet by the following afternoon, that too is gone. Chopped, tidied away – and all the bright insects gone with it.

These fragments are scattered like the last pieces of a jigsaw we’ve lost the picture to and can’t make sense of, too many of the pieces lost. The picture, if we remember it, might look like something out of an old Ladybird book, from the ‘50’s or 60’s; just after things began to go so wrong. All hail then, the farmers who do things well. Do a difficult balancing act of providing food with a light touch on pest and herbicides, that leave or create areas for wildlife, that prove that it can be done.

 

img_6738.jpg

An evening walk on Lambourn downs and fish and chips between the gallops and Sheepdrove’s organic, poppied fields sets me right again. A pair of barn owls the colour of wheatfields are hunting; their flight light as moths in the cool air.

While we have nature left, and good people who care for it, allow for it, know its value and encourage it in myriad ways, there is hope.

And hope is the thing with feathers after all.

IMG_6676

 

Nature Notes

Nightjar Nights.

IMG_6568

On Greenham Common, the heat shimmers off the heathland, blurring the horizon, and the cows gather to stand in the pools. We seek the shade of the alder gullies that fold off the flat, gravel plateau like creases in a tablecloth.

In the evening, my daughters and I walk on a smaller fragment of heath. It is still hot and the scent of summer heath is warm in our nostrils; the pines melting sweet amber sap between the flakes of their bark-skin. The flowering grasses dust a heathery haze on our bare legs. I have come to show them nightjars – but we are too early. I take them off on a familiar route, but before long, have taken a wrong turn in this place I know so well. We end up short-cutting across yards of peaty-wet mire. We manage the first upended log stepping-stones, but soon run out of those. There is nothing for it, but to hitch up our summer skirts, and walk through with shrieks and laughter. I smile inwardly in the glow of winning an argument with my newly-teenage daughter over wearing her birthday-fresh trainers, but say nothing. The black peat- mud oozes through the lace holes in my boots, finds the gaps in my almost gone soles and finally, pours over the tops.

img_6720.jpg

But we come onto the open heath at just the right time: gone sunset on a sultry night, the strange, warm, mechanical sound of a nightjar already churring. It is the sound of the very engine generating the pine-resined, energy-sapping, languid heat of this midsummer night. The bird comes to investigate us. Silently, its outline hawkish, wings snapping up in jerky, puppety flight, white wing spots visible like two moons.

It lands in slender outline on a pine bough, characteristically sideways-on, and calls again. Another appears and the two go off around our heads, lower and lower until we can see the wide open, moth-catching gape of one, its tiny bill open. We twist and turn about, trying not to fall over as they dance around our heads, as if suspended on invisible strings. Another begins to churr from deeper within the common – and a fourth calls ‘cooic, cooic’ near the lane. At that moment, the froggy call of a roding woodcock lifts our eyes and a muntjac barks.

img_6721.jpg

It is 10pm on a school night. But the light holds as if it will not go dark tonight. No–one can sleep anyway. We make our way back across earth that radiates heat against the palms of our hands, the bone-white birches gleaming like coral, the sound of the nightjars filling our heads. We can still hear them when we get home in the hum of the fridge and our electric toothbrushes before we go to bed.

Nights in Long Grass.

IMG_6503

Nights like these, I find it almost impossible to be a functioning member of the family. All I want to be is out. More often than not, we all go. June nights are intoxicating, romantic, sensual affairs full of birdsong, big moons, moths, long grass and wildflowers that scent the nocturnal air. To immerse yourself in it is such a sensual experience it feels illicit; a guilty pleasure. There are leverets and fawns in the grass, fox and badger cubs to watch and owls hunting to feed their ever growing, increasingly mobile chicks.

After the high winds and heavy rain tested trees in full leaf, everything settles again. Banking the sides of the lanes are torn leaves, whole, leafy branches and small, hard unripe fruits: tiny green conkers, soft, green beechnuts, pliable ashkeys and bird cherries without a flush of red on them.

The white umbels of hogweed follow cow parsley, and twiggy, pithy elderflower comes into its own, offering up great, showy, creamy plates of heady scent to the air, like a juggling waiter. Whitebeam, wayfaring tree and guelder rose are all in blossom, lightening the green, and rambled all over with bramble roses and dog rose briars. The marshmallow-hued, heart-shaped petals are scattered all over the earth. My daughter’s friend asks if there has been a wedding.

IMG_6430

Lambs are growing strongly away and more than once, the white, woolly caterpillars of lambstails land in the garden, or at our feet, picked up from the fields by kites, buzzards and corvids – and dropped. Sometimes there are aerial skirmishes – sometimes, they seem dropped deliberately, just so the bird can practice its agility in catching them before they hit the ground.

IMG_6475

The fresh evenings of big, backlit cumulous clouds are gold-gilded. After the astonishing heatwave, castellanus clouds predict a possible riot of storms. We walk through fields of moon-daisies, stirring up moths with our feet: lie down for a hare’s eye view of the landscape. Tawny owlets begin calling for food, awake now, and hungry. We seem to push the chicks ahead of us in a wave of calling ‘chisseek, chisseek’ as they part-fly, part scramble unseen through the understorey. A large roebuck pronks out of the wood and rides through the green corn with great leaps and guttural barks.

IMG_6505

And as we follow out of the wood a barn owl floats into view, its big, satellite-dish head turning, heart-shaped, to the ground. It stalls like a paper plane hitting a head wind, folds itself up like a white page of origami and dives into the blue-green sea of wheat like a gannet.

Somewhere off, out there on the inhospitable, bare-knuckled flint rubble of the down – where there seems to be no soil at all – comes the haunting, thrilling wail of a stone curlew luring me away from the path home.

IMG_6506

Nature Notes

Digger on the hill.

IMG_6409

We go out just before sunset on a glorious day where the sky is swimming-pool blue. A warm breeze provokes whitebeam leaves into light. It is not strong, but it is a portent of the weather to come and enough to turn the wind turbine on the far hill, so I hear it in my head like blood pulsing: whump, whump, whump.

The grass camber between flint wheel tracks is soft underfoot and flows like a stream with feathery silverweed cinquefoil. Away from the menace of the hedgecutter, hawthorn has been allowed to flower in great, clotted-cream waterfalls, alive with all manner of bees, hoverflies, moths and other insects. Its petals polka-dot the nettles.
We three generations of women – mum, my eldest daughter and me – creep along the ride through the woods, lush grass brushing our fingertips as we carefully avoid the snap of dry pine twigs and brittle beech mast. A glimpse of the deep combe below is heavenly, the light casting deep and lovely shadows.

IMG_6398

We reach the centre of the badger sett. Under dappled beech and nettle-light are piles of white chalk rubble. The birdsong is rich and full. We settle to wait.

IMG_5912
The sun is molten on the ridge. Eventually, the light leaves the wood and the birdsong quietens. Blackbirds chip and pink their anxiety to roost and pheasants cough nervously. There is a change in the atmosphere and the wood takes on a grainy, cinematic quality. Very close by, disturbed flints rattle quietly over chalk cobbles and the nettles wag: the badgers are out.

IMG_6377
Half a striped face appears, then disappears. Then above the nettles on a mound of chalk, two sets of ears, like mirrored crescent moons. Another badger emerges from a hole to our right like a silver invisibility cloak; an animated piece of night, silent, grey, long tail sweeping, exquisite dished face concentrating on the ground. To our left, another appears in a last pool of light, its fur beautifully backlit, a smudge of chalk drying on its nose, the pale claws of pigeon-toed paws so long, they almost overlap. We hold our breath. It shifts its head up, down, appraises us and bolts. But does not seem to disturb the others. Right in their midst, we are afforded more views of disembodied badgers – the glint of an eye, a head that seems to float in the gloom, a powerful, silver-grey shoulder pulling a roll of bedding out to air.

Badger, becheur, brock, digger: we are immersed in their world where they are half-seen, mysterious and almost silent; piecing together a jigsaw of badgers, like the shards of a landscape: light, chalk and the night.

IMG_6380

Nature Notes

Hill forts, islands & leavings.

IMG_6147

When we booked our recent holiday, reading out the description instigated a family fit of giggles. Our holiday destination nestled below a 298m hill and its Iron Age hill fort. It was the gateway to a National Park under official dark night skies and a historic, bloody battle was fought on its slopes. Our house sits below a hill just 1m lower with its own impressive Iron Age hill fort. It is within the North Wessex Downs AONB (perhaps 1m down from a National Park?) under designated dark night skies. If you were stretching the comparison, practice for the Merville Battery assault during D-Day was enacted here, on the slopes, with real ammunition and bloody consequences, albeit later.

But of course: Northumberland was wilder, more remote, more rugged. The house was bigger, nicer and there was a brilliant chef (in the form of my lovely Father-in-law). And the dark night skies were infinitely darker.

We took the causeway out to Lindisfarne where the sea glittered like shook foil off  expansive white sands. There were eider ducks and flocks of knot and dunlin out on the spits and sand bars, and between the bottling, bobbing heads of hundreds of seals, an otter, porpoising.

IMG_6085

We took Billy Shiel’s boat from Seahouses to Inner Farne on choppy seas under louring cloud. We were soon out among the birds: gannets forming huge yellow-and-white ‘W’s in spectacular dives and puffins whirring past like bright bees. The seabird colonies here are globally important and I inhaled the famous scent of guano from the ice-creamed cliffs and declared it a mix of wet sheep and otter poo, a subtle nuancy no-one else on the boat recognised.

IMG_6110

It poured. On the island, puffins ran down turf burrows and razorbills with white ribbon bridles jostled with chocolate-brown guillemots. We spotted cormorant and shag nests and the blue enamel pears of guillemot eggs. On the boat home, soaked to our underwear, a pod of six dolphins broke the surface, rolling like the smooth submerged cogs of something working below the surface we couldn’t fathom.

IMG_6121

On our last evening, we climbed Humbleton hill again, huddling in strong winds in the 17thC summit cairn and looked out to Scotland, the oxbow of the ottery River Till and Wooler Water below us, with views towards Yeavering Bell and its ancient herd of wild goats. Squared plantations and garrisoned woods darkened into ranks, bristling with pike-pines as we thought of the 800 Scots who died here fighting Hotspur in 1402.

The dark night sky darkened. There are stars in our hair and on the shoulder of the hill. The lights from a distant car sideswipe the hill like a searchlight, we shy away from it instinctively, fugitives from the light and the rest of the world.

The last bird I hear is a grey partridge calling me home and the ‘go back, go back’ cries of red grouse. We take an emotional leaving and pack off back to our own hill fort and its dark night skies. 1 metre lower and a whole country distant.

IMG_5953

 

 

Nature Notes

Eastwards: the Cheviots in Spring.

IMG_6014

Low, red-roofed Homildon Cottage forms the gatepost to Northumberland National Park and St Cuthbert’s Way all the way to Lindisfarne. It nestles below historic Humbleton Hill (the cottage keeps the older name) and its garden gives way to bilberry, heather and the unfurling fiddleheads of bracken. There are lapwings nesting beyond the back gate and curlew calling from the hill. All the luxurious lie-ins we’ve promised ourselves are irrelevant in an instant.

We are out first thing on the high, domed Cheviots, mountain biking, walking, birding. The dry stone walls are limed and whitened with lichen, punched through with oak and sycamore roots, haunted by wrens and redstart and threaded through with hunting stoats. The hills are alive with meadow pipits, skylarks, bright-billed oystercatchers, wheatear, whin and stonechat. And an evocative soundtrack to die for.

IMG_6149

Red grouse display and call ‘like a duck falling downstairs’ according to my son, and follow with their famous, ventriloquistic ‘go back, go back’. But we won’t, not yet. Snipe ‘sing’ with the sound of someone sawing through wet wood and when one goes up drumming above me, my heart catches at the sound: atmospheric and all but lost at home. As this small, slender bird with a long bill flies, it makes silvery twists and dips, shouldering in to scoop the sound out of the very air, making it flow over right angled tail feathers that stick out like horizontal stabilisers on the tail of a plane. The sound is a thrumming, a wuthering, a kite on a string that swoops and rights itself before hitting the ground: a sound like someone furiously bowing a cello.

We are here at such an exciting time. The migratory spring birds are coming in off the East Coast, the numbers of willow warblers doubling daily, their song a lilting laugh. Harthope valley is full of golden gorse and its scent of coconut ice cream. We walk alongside the beautiful Carey Burn as it tumbles round rocks marked by otters. I scan warm shale slopes for ring ouzels and get left behind as I try to take it all in.

IMG_6191

The boys bike over Hart Heugh and Broadstruthers for some exhilarating descents whilst my daughter goes for a wild swim with the dogs in a mountain pool below a waterfall. The rest of us are in fleeces. A dipper pipes back and forth over her head and a lizard skitters over golden saxifrage. And we are there the moment the sand martins return, all dusky brown and glittering as if the Saharan sand is still on their wings.

On the wide, white sands below impossibly romantic Bamburgh Castle, we gaze out to The Farne Islands and hatch plans among the incoming puffins.

IMG_7734