First gannet back at Bass Rock

From Wildlife Extra:

First gannet of 2012 lands on the world-famous Bass Rock

Breeding season begins at the world’s largest single island gannet colony

February 2012. This award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, has just celebrated the landing of the first gannet in 2012 on the world-famous Bass Rock. The gannet was spotted on the five star Discovery Centre’s interactive live cameras.

½ million seabirds

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.

150,000 gannets – The world’s largest colony

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.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “The first landing is a few days later than last year, with our first sighting on 15 February in 2011, 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 Zone cameras in the Discovery Centre and our boat trips to the Bass Rock and the Isle of May will start next month.”

Centre’s webcams are here.

How to visit The Scottish Seabird Centre: here.

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.

Gannet facts

• 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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