Matilda sings bass

Matilda at Archerfield

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.

Matilda at Archerfield

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.

North Berwick harbour

Naturally there were things growing on the harbour wall to admire too.

North Berwick harbour

We got safely ensconced on the boat and set off out of the harbour…

North Berwick harbour

…past the lookout point and onto the open sea…

Craigleith Island

…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.

Mostly the puffins flew off as we approached but one gave me half a chance.

We had a glimpse of a seal and what I think is a shag not a cormorant.

seal and shag

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.

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.

gannets, bass rock

gannets, bass rock
On the nest

These birds are striking when seen on the nest but even more so when they are circling above you.

gannets, bass rock

They are beautiful streamlined fliers…

gannets, bass rock

…and keep a keen eye out for fish.

gannets, bass rock

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.

gannets Bass Rock

We were on the right side of the boat this time and the precipitous rock and its bird  life were stunning.

gannets  Bass Rock

gannets Bass Rock

gannets Bass Rock

There are some flat shelves near the shore in a couple of places and the gannets use these areas for socialising rather than nesting.

gannets  Bass Rock

If there is a space unsuitable for gannets, other birds take the opportunity to nest there.

Guillemots in one of the caves

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.

Bass Rock

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….

North Berwick

…and it didn’t take us long to get back to the harbour.

North Berwick

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…

North Berwick
Alistair playing King Knut. (He was cheating as the tide was going out)

…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.

Tantallon Castle

This is Tantallon castle, perched on the very edge of the cliff opposite the Bass Rock.

Tantallon Castle

Tantallon Castle

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.

Tantallon Castle

There are some rooms inside the remaining parts….

Tantallon Castle

…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).

standing paddler

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.

flying gannet

Sorry about all the photos but you should have seen the other 150 that I discarded. 

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

10 thoughts on “Matilda sings bass

  1. A beautiful series of photos of your trip! These old castles are fascinating, especially thinking about the amount of labor that went into building them back then without the help of modern technology.

  2. Puffins, a charming harbor, pretty painted doors and a castle. Delightful. (I had a picture book about a puffin and an old lady when I was little. Wish I could remember the name, I loved it so.)

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