The Loyalty Of Puffins

This card ‘Loyalty’ is from our Friendship range. The two puffins are perching on a rock on the Isle of May. It’s an island that my wife Tamara and I visited in 2012. I went again in 2015 to look at and photograph puffins. 

The Isle Of May is a little sliver of an island, just one-and-a-half kilometres long. It is located in the mouth of the Firth of Forth. The island is much nearer to the north side of the Firth, so it’s quite a journey to get there, setting off from Berwick on the southern shore.

Beyond the mouth of the Firth of Forth you are out into the North Sea. So there’s a real sense of being out with elemental nature when you go out to the island.

As well as thousands of breeding pairs of puffins there are also other sea birds. There are thousands upon thousands of breeding pairs of kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, and greater and lesser black-backed gulls on the island.

So where does loyalty come in? Well, puffins are loyal and breed with the same mate each year. And they will re-use the same nest site each year, too.

Aloof, Threatened, Or Something Else?

tabby cat sitting on a wall
tabby cat sitting on a wall
tabby cat sitting on a wall
tabby cat sitting on a wall

This is a neighbour’s cat, from a house across the Green. We saw it a while ago. There are not many cats around here so, naturally, we saw it when it appeared – first on the Green, then under our hedge, then on a wall nearby.

Then the neighbour alerted us that it was lost.

Then I saw the cat and I phoned and alerted the neighbour that I had seen it.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, the cat had returned home and was found, as the neighbour told me. So I had seen the found cat, not the lost cat.


Today the little cat was near our front door – a bit skittish. When I came out later it was sitting on a wall, and I photographed it.

I sensed I was crowding the cat, sticking a camera nearer than its comfortable social distance.

As I moved nearer I was reminded of something I read recently.

From Chapter Three of The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals by Richard D. Estes

Up to a point, the more cars animals see, the less they mind them. Animals are most approachable in the places where they are exposed to the most vehicles. However, the process can go too far when there is a constant succession of vehicles or so many of them around at once as actually to interfere with the animals’ normal routine. To make it worse, ‘the animals may undergo stress without obvious outward signs.

Cheetahs, short of running or hiding, sit and gaze into the distance when stressed by a vehicle’s close approach. The aloof cat look suggests they are completely ignoring you. But what they are actually doing is looking away, a behavior of cats attempting to appease the aggression of a dominant animal.

So was this cat aloof or appeasing me? Or something else? What would catafficionados say?


Sony RX100 Mk III – 1/250th at f2.8 – ISO 125 – JPEG straight out of the camera, resized for the Web.

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