56° 29.718’ N, 6°24.966’ W, 23.05.2019

From flat Coll
We turn southwards
On a beam reach
To the Treshnish Isles –
Dutchman’s Hat
And the puffin island
Of Lunga.
We see the birds, penguin-like
Struggling to get airborne
Flapping desperately across the waves
And deem them
Poor flyers
Compared to
An easy and unexpected
V-shaped skim of cormorants.
Yet after we slip and scramble
Ashore, across kelp
And rocks green with gutweed
We find the birds to be
Trusting, guileless, striking, magnificent,
Launching themselves
Like little jets
From their cliff-top burrows
Whilst nearby
The thermal glide
And swoop,
The fluttering brake
Of cantankerous, clamouring fulmars
Continues incessantly
And starlings nest
Screaming and wary
Among the boulders of the shore.
And there between them
Tourists by the boatload
For a photo-op
With the exotic creatures.
But what of their plummeting numbers
The disappearance of the sandeels
– their primary food supply –
Industrially hoovered up for fishmeal
For fishfarms
Dying out
For lack of plankton?
What of us?
Where are we
In all of this,
And what is it exactly,
What disappearance
What soon-never-to-be-seen-again
Are we witnessing?
The weather turns
The tide is coming in
And we leave
On a dead run
For Goletra, Little Colonsay
And arrive on the wolf island
Of Ulva,
Where we watch,
From Cragaig Bay
As the lenticular clouds
Over the cliffs by Mackinnon’s Cave
And Sloc nan Con – Ravine of the Dogs –
Turn pink
Then grey
Then greyer still.