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First Gannet of 2012 Lands

…on the World-Famous Bass Rock

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

This weekend the award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick, 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 by Portobello resident Max Blinkhorn.

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.

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.Max Blinkhorn an Edinburgh-based photographer, crowned the Scottish Seabird Centre’s Gannet Watch champion, said: “I was visiting the Centre with my daughter Jessica and some family friends. We were enjoying controlling the Bass Rock cameras when suddenly I spotted a seabird landing. My first thought was that it was a gannet and a member of staff came over to confirm that it was – and the first of the year! The team at the Seabird Centre presented me with a gannet book, which was a lovely surprise. We had a really great time at the Centre and being crowned the Gannet Watch champion was the icing on the cake!”

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “It has been a very exciting time at the Centre, with visitors and staff alike glued to the Bass Rock cameras to be the first to spot the gannets landing. Congratulations to Max for being our Gannet Watch champion. 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.”

For more information on the Scottish Seabird Centre visit: http://www.seabird.org International supporters of the Centre can view the gannet action on the Seabird Centre’s webcams at: http://www.seabird.org/webcams.asp Also follow the Centre on Facebook /ScottishSeabirdCentre and twitter@SeabirdCentre 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.

4th July 2014