The Scottish Seabird centre in North Berwick run a number of boat trips from the harbour. We joined them for their voyage round three of the offshore islands; the Lamb, Craigleith and the Bass Rock which takes 90 minutes. Waterproofs and life jackets are provided. Fortunately, the day we went was very still and quiet in the East Beach.
We met our boat in the harbour.
The first island we visited was the Lamb. The small uninhabited island is home to cormorants, guillemots, puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars and herring gulls.
Ownership of the island traditionally lay with the feudal barony of Dirleton. In 2000, Brazilian businessman Camilo Agasim-Pereira bought the title and with it the island. Then, in 2009 it was bought by Uri Geller, who claimed it was the hiding place for a hoard of ancient Egyptian treasure. This theory was based on the fact that the layout of the islands of Lamb, Fidra and Craigleith seems to mirror the layout of the pyramids of Giza. From the Lamb you can see Fidra.
We then headed over to Craigleith which is visible from our house and is also is home to many sea birds.
In the 1990s it was home to 10,000 pairs of breeding puffins. But numbers reduced dramatically due the invasion of a non-native plant: Tree Mallow (Lavatera arborea) which grows up to nine feet high. It choked the puffin burrows and preventing the birds from nesting and rearing their chicks. To tackle this problem, the Scottish Seabird Centre set up a project called SOS Puffin in 2007. Work parties of volunteers make regular trips to Craigleith and the neighbouring islands of Fidra and the Lamb to cut down tree mallow. So far over 320 work parties have made regular trips to the islands to keep the tree mallow under control. This has largely been achieved. The northern half of the Island is now largely free of tree mallow, having been replaced with grasses, allowing puffins to breed again and numbers to recover. We saw some in the water as well as on the island.
The Isle of May which we visited in 2019;
https://carolhenshaw.com/2019/07/21/the-isle-of-may/ was visible in the distance.
The last island was the Bass Rock. I have photographed it several times from various points on the shore:
but this was the first approach by sea. It has the world’s largest colony of northern gannets although numbers dropped last year due to avian flu. At this time of year, they are getting their nests ready for laying and we saw a few bringing sea weed back for them.
We sailed round the island
past the caves and the lighthouse.
The ruins of the fortress and the old chapel are on the rock. We then left the Bass Rock and returned to North Berwick harbour via Seacliff
and Gin Head.