The gannet show

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Most of the seabirds have now left the island but there is still one that we and the visitors are seeing everyday…the gannet. They have a longer breeding season and their big chicks take some feeding to reach maturity. So we still have huge numbers of gannets passing the island on the way out into the North Sea on a fishing expedition or on the way back. Gannets are doing better than some seabirds because they have a different feeding strategy. They catch fish and carry them in their stomachs on the way out into the North Sea and again on the way back, digesting some for themselves but arriving back at the nest still with a stomach of fish for the chick. This means that they are able to make sue of fish stocks much further out in the sea than other birds and this is why we see such big groups going past the island.
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Yesterday we spent half an hour sitting on the end of the South Ness and because of the wind direction and fog the gannets were coming back from the North Sea and flying right down the east side of the island right over our heads. We were given a fantastic flying display as these 6 foot wingspan birds came past in groups and lines. And one individual decided that it had a room for some more fish and dived 3 times just meters in front of us and to have one of the most dramatic feeding techniques in the natural world performed just in front of you was breathtaking.  Sometimes it just pays to sit down on the island and wait and see what comes to you.
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