As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.

Watching seabirds in the Forth


Last weekend, Dad said I was going to have a surprise on Sunday morning. We got up early, and he told me to dress warm even though it was supposed to be warm anyway. We left the house at 7am, and I didn't know where I was going. He drove almost all the way to Edinburgh and parked right inbetween the Forth bridges. Then he told me that we were going on a seabird boat cruise that was part of the RSPB Scottish Birdfair !

The Forth river is almost the sea at that point so we went out to see what birds were on the islands there. We queued to get on the boat and it had two levels. The bottom level was inside the boat but with big windows and the top level was seats out in the open deck where you could see the birds. We sat at the top facing backwards.

I sa my first new bird even before we had set sail. It was an Eider duck which was nesting at the bottom of the rail bridge. Eider ducks are ducks that only live on the sea. Here is a male (on the right) with a female. I got an Eider skull as a gift from Mrs Powell last year.

The bird you could see the most of were gulls. It is very difficult to tell the types of gull apart but I think this one is a herring gull.

No-one lives on the islands in the Forth any more, but you could still see the old buildings which would have been incredible to explore. This one had an enormous pier for big ships to dock.

The buildings were all ruined:

On the pier was a shag. This was the first time I have seen one.

If you looked hard with binoculars you could see more shags inside the window.

One of the things I was most excited to see was seals ! I think these are grey seals. I must have seen dozens on the trip. 

Most of the seals were on the rocks but some were even resting on the buoys. These ones looked like they were sunbathing !

I even saw puffins, but only a few. The ones I saw were swimming rather than on the islands.

This is what a lot of the rocks looked like. You can seals at the bottom here too and gulls at the top. You can see the colour from where the high and low tides are.

On a rocky outdrop there was this colony of cormorants. I have seen cormorants before near my house on the Lower Rhynd and on a fishing pond.

This was the view from the middle of the Forth all the way to Edinburgh Castle and the centre of Edinburgh !

I was really excited to see a gannet ! There was only one and it only went by once. It was carrying something in its mouth. I have two gannet skulls that Mrs Powell gave me.

There were lots of guillemots too.

This is another of the islands that had an abandoned monastery on it: 

These are common terns. You can tell them apart fron arctic terms because of the black bit at the end of the beak. They were on a buoy.

These two fulmars were on a nest on one of the islands.

The trip got back about midday and then dad and I met mum and my brothers at the Scottish Birdfair at Hometoun House.  It was an amazing trip and a great surprise !

Enjoy this post ? Share it !


Jack N said...

Lucky you, puffins rule!I went canoing down an awesome river today and saw a mandarin duck, a load of ducklings, some little grebes,a buzzard and some snow geese.The first and last of which I'd never seen before!I also found a huge dead cockchafer.

Mori said...

Brilliant! I went birdwatching at the Forth when I was a kid, saw my first Fulmars and Eiders, and Grey Seals too. There were Kittiwakes also, you might have seen some of those without knowing it if you're not confident at IDing gulls. They have black legs (the only kind of gull that does) and a yellow beak with no red spot. They are supposed to have a call that sounds like their name. I wanted to see Puffins when I went but it was too late in the year, it was late August and Puffins and Guillemots have gone out to sea by then, so it's cool that you got to see them and in their breeding plumage when they look best.

Your gull in the photo is definitely a Lesser Black Backed Gull, because it has a dark grey back and yellow legs. Herring gulls are the same size as L.B.B. Gulls but they have a light, silvery grey back and pink legs.

Psydrache said...

Cool! You have so many interesting birds out there! Years ago I was in Edinburgh too, but only for the military tattoo. Anyway, Scotland has so many castles and ruins, its very interesting to visit this country.
In winter we have some Eiders on the lakes here and a few Eiders like to stay the whole year. Good for me, because eiders are my favourite ducks ^^

Jake said...

@Jack: Cool trip ! The only time I saw a mandarin duck was at a zoo in Paris
@Mori: I'll have another look at dad's photos to see if there were any kitiwakes.
@Psydrache: Eiders are quite cool.

Free counters!