Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Death Sentence

The beautiful Northern Fulmar
Flying high alongside the steep and ragged slopes of Wales, the Northern Fulmars watched us inch closer to the edges of the sea cliffs. 

Steve stopped to smell the coconut tinged air of the invasive gorse.

As we got closer to the edge, I began to get sick.  Steve slowly walked the narrow trail along the steep cliffs to find our target birds.  I saw the narrow path before me.  One side was a free fall to my death into the ocean while the other was a fall that was sure to break every bone in my body.  So I began the climb back up the hill. Then Steve saw me returning uphill in a nervous panic. 

Steve walks the narrow path.  One slip and it's under the sea!
He came back up to get me.  He had no problem climbing the narrow deadly stretch.  The grasses were wet and slippery.  The slope on the hill didn't have a barrier to prevent me from falling into the ocean, but I believed in Steve.  He took my heavy camera and told me to focus on his footsteps.  I cracked jokes to make myself laugh.  I think I even threatened Steve at some point during our descent. For that I apologize:)  Nicely dressed Brits were sipping their tea or coffee on the bottom of the cliffs looking up at us and wondering if we were going to fall off the cliff.  

We had taken the trickier trail to the top.  I am thankful to Steve for his encouragement because what I saw was immensely beautiful.  There we stood at the edge of the cliffs.  Some people have even jumped off the edge because they had this free last thought to fly. Thankfully, I did not. I never realized that there were people out there who randomly jumped off of high cliffs to feel the thrills of free falling before their death.  All I know is that I wanted to throw up.  I can do pelagics and a million other things, but my kryptonite is height. in the hell did this sheep get there?!? There along the edge of the gray overcast world, we spied the Northern Fulmars preparing for the breeding season. It was spectacular.  

These birds weren't even a lifebird!  BUT I wanted to know more about them because I have never seen their breeding habitat.  I've only seen the Pacific subspecies in flight along the California coast. 

the Northern Fulmars of Southern California
Not all of our treks through the hillsides that day were frightening.  Most were quite lovely. 

Near a pasture and farm, we spied several wonderful birds along the stone walls. 

Northern Wheatear
It was exciting to get observations of the Northern Wheatears and Linnets.  Unfortunately, we didn't see a male Linnet in his breeding plumage, but they were still quite lovely.

Eurasian Linnet
As we went up the trail more, we spied the Von Trapp Family disappearing over the hillside. And probably into the ocean.

It was another beautiful day out in Wales.

This will be an adventure I won't forget anytime soon and I thank Steve for pushing me to do my best and move beyond my fears because it was worth it.  Until next time......


  1. Oh gosh, I am so glad Steve was there tohelp you! These are gorgeous shots of the birds, horses and the cliffs. I hope you've recovered enough to go back out to the is so breath-taking.

  2. Hope you did not get too near the Fulmars because if they sprayed you you would have that smell on your clothes forever! Well done in conquering your fears

  3. It sounds as if you had a great time, in spite of your fears, Chris. I can sympathise with your fear of heights. At the age of about 5 or 6, my psyche was severely scarred by my father standing me on the parapet of one of the bridges across the River Thames in central London. I still carry this fear today, and even in the blog post I'm about to publish today I include a mention of traversing the top edge of a 'cliff' (only about 50 ft high, but jagged rocks or rough water below) in winds gusting offshore at around 65 miles per hour!

    Best wishes - - - Richard

  4. A wonderful post and superb photos Chris. I hate heights too so you have my sympathies! Well done on being brave enough to tackle the path - I don't think I could have done!


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