The guest picture of the day shows Matilda considering whether to obey a rather officious sign at Archerfield yesterday. Her father sent it to me.
I apologise in advance. There are some day when taking pictures is irresistible and this was one. If you are busy, just click the LIKE button and move on.
For the first day since we arrived in North Berwick, the wind dropped. This was particularly fortunate as Matilda had invited us to join her on a trip round the Bass Rock by boat. This was an opportunity not to be missed. Matilda tuned up for the voyage with some beach fun and after an early lunch and a snooze, led the party to the North Berwick harbour. The official photographer darted about taking snaps.
Naturally there were things growing on the harbour wall to admire too.
We got safely ensconced on the boat and set off out of the harbour…
…past the lookout point and onto the open sea…
…towards Craigleith Island where the pilot slowed down to let us enjoy the sea birds in the sea, in the air and on the rocks.
We were on the wrong side of the boat to get good pictures of the birds on land but we could see puffins, razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes, cormorants and shags. I did what I could as birds whizzed and swam by.
We had a glimpse of a seal and what I think is a shag not a cormorant.
Although the captain took us round the little island at a very slow pace, it was impossible to take in all the birds we saw.
However, this was merely the hors d’oeuvres to the main dish of the day, a complete circuit of the Bass Rock.
The rock is home to 150,000 gannets at this time of year and the whiteness of the rock is as much due to the sheer number of birds nesting on it as to the bird poo they generate.
Every available space is taken.
These birds are striking when seen on the nest but even more so when they are circling above you.
They are beautiful streamlined fliers…
…and keep a keen eye out for fish.
They are famous for their high speed diving but the boatman said that the water round the Rock is too shallow to see them diving here. They were scooping up sand eels and fighting over their spoils today.
We were on the right side of the boat this time and the precipitous rock and its bird life were stunning.
There are some flat shelves near the shore in a couple of places and the gannets use these areas for socialising rather than nesting.
If there is a space unsuitable for gannets, other birds take the opportunity to nest there.
Our tour of the island was over all too soon. The island is uninhabited now, which is one reason why there are so many gannets there but you can still see the remains of fortifications and other buildings.
The inhabitants largely lived by hunting gannets and the island used to be green enough for the light house keepers to have a garden. It was an important place in its time, visited by kings.
We turned back towards the shore….
…and it didn’t take us long to get back to the harbour.
It had been a perfect trip with the only quibble that it was far too quick. We could easily have enjoyed being out for twice as long.
Even on a pretty flat calm day, it is tricky trying to take pictures from a crowded moving boat so I hope that I have been able to give a flavour of this unique island. I would like to go again without a camera just to have more of a look at all that was going on. However, getting a day like today, calm and with some sunshine, was a real bonus so I am not complaining at all.
Matilda followed the trip up by taking us to an excellent gelateria where we enjoyed various exotic flavours of ice cream.
Then the younger members of the party went off to the beach…
…while the more mature members had a cup of tea and then cycled a couple of miles along the coast to visit another fine castle.
This is Tantallon castle, perched on the very edge of the cliff opposite the Bass Rock.
I would like to have had more time here too but I had already taken far too many pictures so it was probably just as well that we only had half an hour before the castle closed for the evening.
It is a massive building and even with most of the walls gone, it still is very imposing.
There are some rooms inside the remaining parts….
…and the castle is built of such beautiful stone that just looking at the walls is a treat.
We had the benefit of a tail wind as we cycled home and this rounded of a perfect day.
When we left the beach to cycle to the castle, I saw my first ever real life standing paddler (I have only seen them on TV before).
That gives a good flavour of what the weather was like today.
You will doubtless be surprised to find that the flying bird of the day is one of these.
Sorry about all the photos but you should have seen the other 150 that I discarded.