The Gannets herald the Summer.
The sun was glinting silvery across the water under a great pale blue sky, as my eyes swept the sea in the unmindful idea that I might be lucky enough to see something.Then out of the blue came‘Summer’ in the shape of a gannet.
Seeing the first gannet of the season is special in our family. We’ll come home and describe the event. Everyone will exclaim over the news and smiles go around and the new Gannet Expert is asked where they saw the gannet and what it was doing. “Flying..’ is normally the answer but you’ll understand we occasionally get overly excited.
My gannet would have come home from southern warmer climes to Ailsa Craig but, there are breeding colonies on the Bass Rock, St Kilda is famous for them and they are also at Hermaness and Noss.
Northern Gannets are Scotland’s largest seabird with a wingspan of about two meters, black tips to their wings, long necks, stunningly white with pointy faces (with a splash of Naples yellow – if we are going to get all arty about it.)
The real show is when they feed, sometimes alone but often in large groups, they dive at speeds of 60mph. Racking back their wings as they plummet into the sea, diving as deep as 15m under the surface, sometimes swallowing their fish before resurfacing. We sometimes watch as they dive and lament their lack of fishing skill when they sit on the surface before immediately flying away. Little did we know they were literally letting their dinner go down!
The next time I’m out walking with Finn the dog, I’ll be scanning the skies as well as the water because a big gannet swooping across the sea is one of nature’s wonders and worth a story to bring home.
Here are a couple of links which may be of interest: