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Birds, Wildlife and Gardening

The world of Northern Gannet

Saturday 11th September comments: The east coast of the U.K has some impressive abd very important seabird islands and as you all know, at the entrance of the Firth of Forth lies the mighty Isle of May, known as the Jewel of the Forth. This magnificent national nature reserve is home to thousands of seabirds including over 46,000 pairs of Puffins. However to the south in the outer Firth there is a cluster of islands off the East Lothian coast near North Berwick which includes Craileith, Lamb and Fidra. However the most significant in this group of islands is the Bass rock, the world’s largest Northern Gannet colony in the world and we decided to pay it a visit.

Yesterday a small team all associated with the Isle of May decided to make a visit to this famous island (we decided to jump islands for a few hours) and with our great guide Maggie, we entered a world dominated by one species; the Northern Gannet. The Bass rock is the worlds largest Gannet colony as it boasts 75,000 breeding pairs and with non-breeders, the rock holds somewhere in the region of 150,000 individual birds (that’s a lot of Gannets!) It is without doubt one of the most impressive wildlife experiences you can have as you enter the world of the Gannet. Its noisy, its smelly but its magnificent.  

At this time of year thousands of young Gannets are getting ready to fledge. These birds known as gugu’s are often too heavy to fly and will drop onto the sea and paddle away, before living off fat reserves before eventually flying. It’s a strategy which is working as Gannets are one of the few seabirds which are increasing in significant numbers and it was wonderful to see. On a final interesting note, there is also an Isle of May link as the Bass is owned by Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple whose family acquired it in 1706 but before then it was in the hands of the Lauder family for almost six centuries…. and the Isle of May bird observatory Trust is chaired by non-other than Alan Lauder…. small world….

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