Thursday, 10 November 2011


Gulls and the creatures of the sea - what would they tell us if they could talk?

I took this photo as the position of the two birds caught my eye - plenty room I thought for an amusing caption to be added. They looked like two friends discussing life. And then I imagined the one on the right saying "I'm telling you - I think we're being watched" because just behind the birds a seal had raised its head. I was delighted to get this photo as I have seen the seals before (so close to Edinburgh) but often folks find it hard to believe that such nature could be a stone's throw from Scotland's capital city. But indeed, our seas are full of things we can't readily see and (just because we can not see these things) we should not forget how incredibily, how vitally important it is for us to protect our marine environment.

A Seal at Port Seton Harbour
Shona McMillan ©

Looking at the seal's face [click photo to enlarge] - there was such a gentle questioning look on its face, almost as if a sad question was playing on its mind. I could have imagined it asking someone on the shore "please, tell me, what are you doing to my home?" Yet, beneath the waters... without seeing the seal - how easy to forget it could even be there. And too often, we humans can evaluate the world in terms of what it can do for us - not the other way around...

The last fishing boat from Fisherrow, arriving in to Port Seton
Shona McMillan ©

Tonight, I was at the harbour to watch the boats come in. Indeed, around sixty years ago my parents went on their first date here, taking a car trip to Port Seton harbour - to watch the boats come in at sunset. From a long line of Fisherrow fisher folk, my mum loved to watch the boats, when they would put out to sea but especially, she loved to watch them when they came safely back home. My granda' and great-grandfather (fishermen and then, each in their tim becoming Harbour Masters of Fisherrow) - how many times they fished in the Firth of Forth. But, as a child, I recall my granda's changing position and his great concern as he would say "If people are not careful, one day they will fish the seas dry". My granda' was a great believer in sustainable fishing (tho' in these days there wasn't that term - he just saw it as important to limit a catch so that the fish stocks could replenish themselves". Now today, (unlike the small boats seen in East Lothian harbous) huge boats have seriously impacted on the world's fishing stocks. YET, it is very important to point out that the need for marine conservation is NOT all about the issue of fishing. Plastic bags that end up in the sea, pollution from our towns and cities - people need to realise that marine conservation is an issue for everyone to consider and address.

A large flock of birds diving down to settle on the sea
Shona McMillan ©

Myself, I am in a variety of different environmental organisations and often use my blog and Facebook page to post comments eg: protecting butterfly habitat, feeding birds when their natural food supply is scarce, talking about our problems with litter etc. Yet, whatever each of us chooses to do (or not to) - I am sure that we all agree that each of us could always do more. And, getting involved with  environmental charities as a volunteer can also be a great way of meeting new people who share similar interests to ourselves... It seems to me that getting involved as a volunteer is something that benefirts us all. Watching the birds diving to the sea tonight and overhead - seeing HUGE numbers of geese passing over enroute to Aberlady Nature Reserve, I thought how the sound of their calls was just their way of communicating, coming together in a large group for safety, to find food and shelter. And when humans work together, what great things we too can achieve...

Click to enlarge photo and see the geese in flight
Shona McMillan ©

Geese fly around the world to Winter in Scotland and many fish migrate great distances too. From where these journies begin to where they end - people are all over the world and my blog (I know) has been building up an international following. So I ask you, wherever you are when you read my words and enjoy my photos - give some thought to the natural environment around you in your part of the world. If you want to do more to get involved, I can guarantee you that there will be many environmental charities that will gladly receive your time and any financial donations you wish to make. Id be delighted to try and motivated everyone to get outdoors more, get involved and see what you can do to help out more. And again, what I would highlight as a closing thought to take away from my blog is - just because we can not so easily see what is happening in our seas in respect of the marine environment - it doesn't mean that our seas do not need urgently our help. Please, let's all try to do more in whatever way that we can to - "Protect Our Seas"

Wading birds feeding on the East Lothian shoreline
Shona McMillan ©