Just off the east coast of Scotland and only a few miles from the centre of Edinburgh is the largest breeding colony of Atlantic Gannets in the world.
Bass Rock is one of a group of volcanic islands off the coast of North Berwick that also include Fidra and Craigleith and during the spring they are host to 300,000 pairs of nesting seabirds. On a previous visit I joined the Scottish Sea Bird Centre’s RIB boat excursion out to the island (read about it here), which was pretty exciting, but now the RIB has been joined by a high-speed catamaran which gets you as close to the birds as the RIB, but in much more comfort and with no need for those alluring oilskins! It’s also cheaper at £16 per adult.
It only took a few minutes to speed out to Craigleith where the puffins were perched along the heights, just like Red Indians in a Western movie,
while out on the sea rafts of puffins were fishing for sand eels
to take back to their island burrows and feed their young.
Further down the rock face guillemots were nesting upon the precarious cliff face,
along with kittiwakes, fulmar, cormarants, eider ducks and shags.
From Craigleith it was about ten minutes to Bass Rock.
As I’ve said before there is something pretty primal about Bass Rock. Every space on the rock surface is occupied by these majestic seabirds.
The noise of 300,000 birds is incredible, (as is the smell of their fishy poo).
The catamaran was soon surrounded by birds searching for nesting material and fishing. Gannets are Britain’s largest seabird with an eight foot wingspan and you really get to appreciate the size of these birds as they take to the air around you.
As we rounded the island a small voice piped up ‘seals’ and there in a cave were a group of around five or six grey seals bobbing around in the water.
It was the icing on the cake for our trip and to think it was only half an hour from the centre of Edinburgh. (off peak Scotrail Day Return from Edinburgh Waverley £6.80)
Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact firstname.lastname@example.org for commercial reuse