Thursday, 29 June 2017

Troup Head

I make a point of going to Troup Head at least once a year.  It is the only mainland Gannetry in Scotland and it is right on our door step. Just15 miles away.  So on 28th June I went for the first time this year.

The views are amazing

Looking across Pennan Bay
 That cliff face is full of sea birds nesting.  Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills

Rosehearty and Fraserburgh
Kinnaird Head Lighthouse is on the horizon.

The bird life is even more spectacular.  I didn't go for the year list, but to get photos.  The first bird I saw was a Yellow/Black Duck

Yellow/Black Duck
Two years ago when I was chair of Fraserburgh Tourism Group we had a campaign all about yellow plastic ducks.  To find out more visit the Facebook page we set up.  The campaign got people going round some of the tourist attractions in the area and it raised over £300 for the Willows Animal Sanctuary.  People were able to bur a yellow duck for a £1 which was donated to the sanctuary.  You can still see some of these ducks around the area.  Coloured ducks were placed at visitor attractions in the area and people were encouraged to find them.  A sort of 'coloured duck trail'.  The one at Troup Head was black and I was surprised to see that it was still there albeit in a rather sorry state.  A special thanks goes to Malcolm Stewart from St Combs who started the whole thing off.  A spin off was Fraser the big Duck.  He has his own facebook page and like the yellow ducks dose quite a lot of travelling.

But enough of that.  This blog is about Troup Head.  Of course Gannets are the birds to photograph at Troup Head.  So that is what I did. 

It is not possible to get an idea of the size of the colony from the cliff top.  The photos above show only a fraction of the birds there.  In 2014 there were 6.500 nesting pairs.  In addition non breeding birds are present as well.  The best way to get a sense of the size of the colony by boat.  There are a couple of boats that do Troup Head trips from Macduff.  The one I have been on is Puffin Cruises.  The colony is growing.  every year there are new nest sites being occupied.  If you go on a boat trip try to get the skipper to go a little further than Troup Head and across Pennan Bay.  Although you might see Puffins at Troup Head (I saw one on this visit) there is a big colony of them on the other side of the bay.

There was a fairly strong North Easterly wind on this visit This created a problem that birds going from right to left went quickly.  The photos were fairly boring

But some had added interest.  Nest building was an ongoing activity

The problem was far outweighed by the benefit of seeing them land into the wind. They had to hang in the air while they picked the landing site.

Add caption
 This grassy area on the cliff top was a favourite place for collecting grass

Getting a photo of a bird feet dangling and wings up in isolation was a challenge but with trial and error, finding the right place and patience it could be done.

There were other shots to take.

More nest material collection

Courtship displays

Young Gannets

And  classic poses that didn't quite come off

Pity about the pole!

Four Feet

Not All in the Frame
Gannets did not have the cliffs to themselves.

Fulmars were equally at home in the air

Razorbills and Guillemots clung to the cliff ledges

Rock Pipits and Humans teetered on the edge

There are two birds I have not mentioned.  One, a Great Skua I  saw as I was on my way back to the car.  Something made me turn round and look towards the sea.  I managed to get on the camera but only just.

The other was an Arctic Skua which I didn't get on camera.  I watched it out at sea through binoculars harassing a guillemot returning from a fishing trip. Both were twisting an turning like fighter pilots in a dog fight.  But Arctic Skua as a year tick.

Total on list 193

1 comment:

  1. Lots for me to paint. I still have a black duck to replace the battered one too!