First gannet spotted on Bass Rock at North Berwick
The Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, celebrated the landing of the first gannet in 2013 on the world-famous Bass Rock at the weekend.
The bird was seen on the five star Discovery Centre’s interactive live cameras by the McCarron family from Airdrie - Gerard, Helen and their three-year-old son James.
This sighting is a significant milestone in the start of the nesting season on the Firth of Forth islands. The area is of international importance for seabirds and over the coming months it will be home to around 500,000 seabirds including puffins, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, shags and terns.
By summer the Bass Rock, just 4km (2.5miles) from North Berwick’s shore, will be crammed with over 150,000 gannets making it the biggest single island gannet colony in the world.
The Bass Rock will now start to change colour as more gannets return, eventually becoming completely white due to the sheer number of these amazing brilliant white birds. Gannets are Britain’s biggest seabird and they usually return to the same mate and nest each year: established pairs reunite and new partners bond with ceremonial displays of bill-fencing. The gannets travel great distances to return to the Bass Rock with many coming from as far as the west coast of Africa.
Mr McCarron, whose family are seabird centre members and visit the centre regularly, said: “I was told by staff that the gannets were due to arrive on Bass Rock any day now, so thought I’d take a wee look, and there it was! We are delighted to be Gannet Watch champions.”
Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “It has been a very exciting time at the Centre, with visitors, staff and volunterrs glued to the Bass Rock cameras to be the first to spot the gannets landing. Congratulations to the McCarron family for being our 2013 Gannet Watch champions.
“The first landing is a few days later than last year, and we now look forward to more and more gannets returning to breed. Our visitors can zoom in on all the action on the Bass Rock cameras in the Discovery Centre. Our popular boat trips to the Bass Rock and the Isle of May will start next month, including a superb new 57-seat, custom-built catamaran that will head out to Craigleith, home to the Centre’s SOS Puffin project, and then out to the Bass Rock.”
Bass Rock facts
The Bass Rock was formed 320 million years ago and is the remains of one of many active volcanoes in the area
It has had a role in many parts of Scottish history – a religious retreat during early Christianity; fortress and prison in the time of the Covenanters and Jacobites; and a strategic stronghold during the times of the Scottish and English wars
It has been owned by the Hamilton-Dalrymple family for the last 300 years
There is a lighthouse, built in 1902: the last keepers left in 1988 when the lighthouse was automated.
First records of gannets on the Bass Rock date back to the 15th century
They are Britain’s largest seabird, with a wing span of over 6ft
In winter many travel to the west coast of Africa
Gannets can live over 30 years
They have such good eye sight that they can spot schools of fish below the surface of the water and dive at speeds of up to 100kmph.
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Weather for Musselburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west