Friday, 12 October 2012

Inishshark Geese & Grey Seals

Some photos from last Friday taken on Inishshark just before things went completely mental here in Galway. I joined a few others from NPWS to help count Grey Seal pups on Inishshark who seem to be doing well. Four Pink-footed Geese were seen flying over the island even before we landed. These are presumably the same flock Anthony McGeehan had about two weeks ago on Inishbofin. Also eleven Barnacle Geese which I reckon were probably just arriving in. 470 were counted here on the last aerial survey in 2008. They are impossible to survey other that by the air due to being extremely flighty. They often fly off and move to other adjacent islands even before you can land on the island. Secondly more often than not it's usually not possible to land a boat on the island during the winter months due to heavy swells and poor/no harbour facilities.
This is one of the main reasons why Inishshark was abandoned by the very last of its 24 inhabitants in October 1960. Islanders were often stranded on the island for weeks at a time without any communication to the outside world or access to shops, a doctor and importantly at the time a priest. I'd really recommend watching "Inis Airc; Bás Oileáin" (Inishshark; Death of an island) done by TG4 about island life and the evacuation. It's divided into five parts on Youtube, first one is here. Nothing left on the island now apart from the geese and seal. Very sad going through some of the old houses out there and just imagining what life would have been back in the day.

Pink-footed Geese

Barnacle Geese

This could actually be a Harbour Seal, doesn't seem to have the typical Roman-nosed appearance of a Grey.

This "looker" unlike all other female seals stands her ground every year we do the count. Not a lady you'd want to tango with!

Day old Grey Seal pup, whence the blood probably from the afterbirth.

Another very young pup having a little stretch, note the fresh umbrilical cord.

An older pup, note the old white furry coat being moulted.

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