Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s tour of five abbeys last weekend. As well as many fine buildings, he saw some good bridges too, among them this lift bridge at Gloucester docks.
It was another calm, dry day at North Berwick and after breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a stroll along a largely deserted beach before taking Matilda up to the carousel for another whirl, this time on a horse….
…followed by a very vigorous bounce on the mini trampolines nearby.
We had a walk on the east beach afterwards in company with a pied wagtail.
The local seagulls are a lazy lot and this one was trying to get a lift out to sea on a seal, but it hadn’t got things quite right to the amusement of the seal.
We got back to our cottage in time for lunch and a visit from our landlady and an electrician. They had come to fix the lights in the kitchen which were all defunct. We were pleased to get them mended but a slightly better impression might have been created if they had been working when we got here.
After lunch, we put on suitable clothing and set off to the harbour to catch the boat for our annual trip to the Bass Rock. We got to the harbour early and Al and Matilda waited patiently on the harbour wall.
We were first onto the boat when the time came and it wasn’t long before we were pottering out of the harbour past some eider ducks…
…and heading towards the open sea. Once clear of the rocks, the captain put his foot on the accelerator and we sped off towards Craigleieth Island at a great rate of knots.
Craigleith Island is home to nesting razor bills and guillemots in great numbers but as soon as a puffin appeared on one side of the boat….
…or the other…
…every camera turned to it and the other birds were ignored.
We were on the wrong side of the boat to get the best view of the birds on the island but I did spot a seal…
…and I was happy to watch the guillemots and razor bills swimming about without taking pictures of them.
Once we had circumnavigated the small island, we left it in our wake…
…and headed off towards the Bass Rock…
…where it was impossible not to notice the thousands upon thousands of gannets nesting there and filling the air above and around the rock.
Gannets are beautiful birds with a wingspan of nearly six feet.
The boat took us right up to the rock and as we were on the right side of the boat this time, we got a wonderful view of the birds.
Gannets are affectionate birds and do a lot of beak tapping as couples. The guide told us that if we saw this loud behaviour…
…the gannet wasn’t complaining but just telling its partner that it was going off fishing for a while.
We were too close to shallow water to see the gannets doing their spectacular dives but we did see them taking off…
….flying past with nest material in their beaks,,,,
…and demonstrating their impressive wingspans,
They are very striking birds when seen close to and the boat captain was meticulous in giving us every opportunity to admire them.
The rock is almost entirely covered by gannets but there were a few kittiwakes (not close enough to photograph) and occasional guillemots who had found a spare ledge to call their own.
I think that this was my favourite shot of the trip.
The east end of the rock has some fine caves and a lighthouse….
…and once we had passed them, it was time to head back to harbour as the rock grew smaller…
…and smaller as we motored on under a big sky.
We got safely back to harbour having enjoyed unusually calm conditions for the trip, and after another whirl on the carousel and bounce on the trampolines by one member of the party, we had a cup of tea in the Seabird Centre and arrived home tried but satisfied.
Al cooked us a very tasty lemon and asparagus linguine for our tea and that rounded off a first rate day.
Although I was spoiled for choice, I haven’t gone for the predictable gannet as flying bird of the day but I have chosen a herring gull instead.