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The Bass Rock

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The Bass Rock
Whilst on holiday near Edinburgh this spring I was fortunate enough to be able to book a trip out to the Bass Rock in order to be able to photograph the gannets that breed there. I began to get more and more excited as the day drew near but was also somewhat on tenterhooks as I knew that bad weather would make it impossible to land. I woke very early to grey skies and rain and things didn't look too hopeful. However, I set off for Dunbar and by the time I arrived it had stopped raining and looked to be brightening from the north. The skipper decided to sail and I and my companions were delighted. I was joined for the trip by two news photographers who were compiling an article about the gannets, one man who just wanted to experience the island, a representative from the Scottish Seabird Centre who was going to repair a CCTV camera and three students who were making a film. As we approached the rock the weather bightened and we began to see more and more gannets and anticipation increased. Imagine our disappointment, then, when the skipper deemed that the 6 foot swell made it too difficult to land. However after a couple of circuits of the rock things had improved enough for us to scramble precariously ashore. Then began a fantastic three hours of photography amongst tens of thousands of gannets. The noise and smell remain in the memory for some considerable time!!!
All too soon it was time to leave but the photography was not over as we were treated to the phenomenon of 'chumming'. This involves throwing waste fish over the side and then suddenly there is a mass of activity as gannets plunge dive right by the side of the boat. Nearly impossible to photograph but good fun trying.