Birding the Bass

While living in Scotland, this is one of the adventures I didn’t want to miss – a chance to see the northern gannet rookery on the Bass Rock, off the coast of North Berwick. It was well worth the trip!

We boated over on the Sula II, an historic boat in her own right, and on the way out, we went past the Scottish Seabird Centre, a place we visited regularly while we lived in Gullane. We also had a great view of Berwick Law, a volcanic plug dating back to the Carboniferous. If you look closely, you can see the set of whale jaw bones that have sat at the top of the hill since 1933.

On the way to the Bass, we had some lovely views of Tantallon Castle:

Tantallon Castle

The Bass Rock is the steep-sided remnant of an ancient volcano. It is currently uninhabited by humans, but supports the world’s largest colony of northern gannets (Morus bassanus). Even when we were still quite far away from the island, the birds were visible – approximately 150,000 of them live on the island.

The Bass Rock

So many birds . . .

Although no humans live there now, there are some remnants of human residents, which include an early Christian hermit, a castle that was later converted to a prison, and the remnants of a chapel. There’s also a lighthouse, built in 1902.

While the lighthouse was lovely, the real stars of the show were the gannets:

DCF 1.0
Northern Gannets

Finally, it was time to return to the mainland. Of course, I took a few last looks as the island grew increasingly smaller in our wake . . .

The Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth

This was a wonderful trip. The gannets are marvelous, the views of the coastline are amazing. and I love being out on the sea.


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