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Puffins return to the Isle of May

Isle of May, Firth of Forth All around there are the mouths of the burrows where, not far below the surface, puffins incubate eggs

On the Isle of May, off the coast of Fife, the seabirds have arrived, and they are feeling broody. From my vantage point on the south cliffs, I have an unfettered view of two shags bedded down comfortably by the water’s edge. Black plumage glistens green in the sunlight. As I watch, one stands to stretch and straighten out her wings, and I count three pale eggs: long and ovoid, like pills.

Their oversized nests are mere piles of rotting seaweed, but seem luxurious compared with those of the kittiwakes and razorbills on the precipitous rockface above – mere toeholds in the cliff, streaked with guano. Further down, the sleek, monochrome guillemots crowd on salt-sprayed ledges. Herring gulls edge between them, feigning nonchalance as they scrounge for speckled eggs.

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