Week 2 of Brian’s Coquettish blog – Brian McCullen blogs about his time volunteering with our Residential Volunteering scheme on Coquet Island. Isolation, Gulls, Terns and the arrival of the Puffins . . .

THE COQUET EXPERIENCE Cont . . .

DAY 8 --- SQWAUK

 Not a great deal to report for today. I finished repairing and preserving the nest boxes ready for positioning on the two terraces. What I DO recall is the amount and intensity level of noise from the Black-Headed Gulls today. A few of them appeared to object to the fact that I was here, and showed their displeasure by swooping low where I was working. Their constant squawking was driving me nuts, but I guess we have our place on the planet and this was theirs. I figured that they must be starting the breeding process to be so agitated at my presence… WOW, does this mean that spring is FINALLY here??

DAY 9 --- Boules

Am feeling rather emotionally isolated, and its having the effect of making me want to retreat into my Cancerian Crablike shell. But I always knew that this day would come by being on Coquet, so I will be ok. When you are taken out of civilisation and placed on an island, the transformation in terms of what you are used to in daily life is gradual, but it does set in. However, today it is “Boules” with the team and some friends!!

DAY 10 --- THE ‘HIDE’

Sooooo, today we are erecting the ‘Hide’ on the jetty. ‘Hide’ ?? Ahhh sorry yes… the ‘Hide’ is a small shed like creation used for keeping watch over the Tern terraces overnight. It is to deter unscrupulous ‘human egg thieves’ from carrying out their wicked deeds. It has a small wood burner, table and a chair… (5 star luxury eh), and whoever is here, takes turns in doing a night-shift on watch.  It took us just over 2 hours to complete, reasonably hard work, but we were treated by the wonderful Hilary to some of her sausage plait and hot mead and whilst we all sat on the jetty making merry we noticed a wonderful sight out in the water… THE PUFFINS HAD ARRIVED yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

DAYS 11/12 --- THE FINAL FURLONG

Well here we are. The start of the final stretch of my “Coquet Experience”. Am painting the ground level windows on the cottage for the next 48 hrs, then the afternoons will be dedicated to sealing the “Hide” with waterproofing mastic. The mornings and evenings are getting lighter now and time seems to be flying by, given the advent of my stay here. I sat on the jetty for ten minutes just taking it all in today. This really is a special place. More and more Gulls are arriving now and settling on the plateau, you can also see the puffins mixing in with them. Just wish this weather would warm up and the sea settle down; it would be so much nicer.  Right, off to bed now see you all tomorrow. Night.

DAY 13 --- AWAITING THE TERNS

Penultimate day for me, and I am helping to clear the Heli-Garden log chopping area so that the Terns will have a safe place to roost and breed. It’s harder than I thought chopping logs but hey, I could do with shedding a few pounds

DAY 14 --- TIME TO LEAVE

Well, it’s arrived all too soon. At 15:00hrs today, Hilary will come out on the launch and pick me up to go back to the mainland. I was dropped off in Alnwick as I staying in a B&B pre my journey back down south tomorrow L But first, there are jobs to do and I am going to be mowing all around in preparation for the Terns. The grass has to be kept short as if it’s allowed to grow, it will trap the rain which is no good for the nesting chicks. So done all that, and now to pack my stuff up for the journey back. Half hour before we are due to leave, I cart my stuff down to the jetty and just chill for a bit, just to take it all in for one last time, just to reflect on this amazing place and experience. This has been my home for two weeks and I kinda got used to it and its ways. I blended in to the way of life. Now it’s back to normality and I wonder how I will react… 15:00hrs and here comes the launch. Goodbye Coquet Island. Thank you for allowing me an insight into your heart and soul. After a quick shower at the marina, Wes drops me off at my guest house. I am going to miss him; he has been my companion and friend. I settle into my room and after a while, go to the town centre to get some supper. I find Carlo’s fish shop and as I eat my Cod and chips, I look out onto the towns activity, I feel strangely isolated. How can you feel like that in a bustling town of people and cars, having just come from somewhere there are no cars and very few people?? Goodbye Coquet, thank you for everything