The Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, has celebrated the homecoming of the first gannet of the year on the world-famous Bass Rock.
The gannet was spotted on the five star Discovery Centre’s interactive live cameras by the Woodward family from Stockport: Sam, Amy, Stanley (age 6), Elsie (age 4) and Fred (age 2).
This sighting is a significant milestone in the start of the nesting season on the Firth of Forth islands, and a truly ‘brilliant moment’ of the Homecoming Scotland 2014 celebrations. 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. Scotland is ‘home’ to around 60% of the world population of North Atlantic gannets (Morus bassanus – named after the Bass Rock).
By summer the Bass Rock, just 4km (2.5miles) from North Berwick, 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.
Sam Woodward, Gannet Watch winner, said: “We have been members of the Scottish Seabird Centre for a few years – we have a holiday home in Gullane and look forward to visiting every time we are in the area. The kids love the Discovery Centre. To be crowned the Gannet Watch champions is fantastic – we spotted the gannet landing around 12 noon on Wednesday 26 February – we will remember this date for years to come.”