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Gannets a'plenty at Troup Head

Gannets a'plenty at Troup Head


Postby RicKamila » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:13 pm

Route description: Troup Head, near Pennan

Date walked: 29/06/2013

Time taken: 1.5 hours

Distance: 2.7 km

Ascent: 100m

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Ah, the weekend. After a busy week of work, we decided to head out to RSPB Troup Head to see the Gannets at the Mainland's only Gannet nesting site. We found the turn off on the B9031 and set off down an ever-narrowing track towards a farm. There are RSPB signs all along the route and as you arrive at the farm, they have spray-painted a sign directing you the right way at a fork in the road. At the farm, we drove very slowly past the house and barns before finally reaching the car park where there is space for 15-20 cars depending how the first cars have parked, but beware, the lower side of the carpark is very muddy at the moment.

We turned right heading out of the car park and then followed the signs to Troup Head that led us through a field. Already we could hear birds from a cliff near Pennan making a racket. After a few minutes of plodding through the field, we reached a fork in the track with two colour markers. Purple and Red. We followed the Red marker to the right. Climbing uphill, we reached a gate and finally made it to the first of the cliffs. They are very steep, unprotected and the ground above is very soft. From this cliff we saw Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Shags, Oystercatchers and Gannet's flying out to sea to collect food.

Image
RSPB Troup Head 1 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

Image
RSPB Troup Head 2 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

The sun was shining as we enjoyed being the only people on this part of the cliff. We could hear a loud blowing noise and saw what we believe to be a Minke Whale passing by, but didn't get a chance to get a photograph as it was offshore a fair way and moving easterly quite quickly. We heard it about half a dozen times on this walk, blowing air out of its blow hole. Eventually some more people arrived, so we headed back to the gate and followed the Red track up some man-made steps to the next cliff.

Image
RSPB Troup Head 3 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

We still hadn't reached the Gannet's yet, but could see them in the distance at the next cliff. A fishing boat appeared from around the western cliffs so I decided to use it as a prop for some photographs.

Image
Fishing Boat 1 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

The Moray Firth/North Sea looked so splendid in the warm sunlight. We felt priviliged to be standing on the cliffs admiring the amazing view. The fishing boat looked so insignificant in this vast mass of water.

Image
Fishing Boat 2 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

Image
Fishing Boat 3 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

Image
Fishing Boat 4 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

Climbing down the hill we reached a gate where the Purple track enters the cliffs. After a couple of minutes walking, we reached the Gannets. There is a camera here overlooking the Gannetry which beams back to Macduff Aquarium. We were looking at the Gannet's on the neighbouring cliff, not realising that there were Gannet's under us. It was only when we stepped closer to the cliff, taking care not to fall, and looking over that we saw our first pair of Gannet's up close.

Image
Gannet 1 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

We decided to climb to the next cliff, stopping all the time to safely look over the edge. Please be careful near the edges as the ground is soft and there are numerous rabbit holes that your legs can disappear in to.

At the final cliff of the RSPB trail, we found a spot that gave us a view east towards a mass of nesting Gannet's. The noise from the nesting Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Herring Gulls was amazing and combined with the smell of fish that the Gannet's were catching, it was a real feast for the senses.

Image
Gannet 2 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

Image
Gannet 3 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

Image
Gannet 4 by CullenEllermanPhotography, on Flickr

We headed back after an hour along the clifftops to the gate and followed the Purple trail back to the car park. It truly is an amazing experience to be so close to nature and if you have the chance, please visit RSPB Troup Head. You won't regret it!!
User avatar
RicKamila
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 2358
Munros:5   Corbetts:5
Grahams:3   
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Joined: Jul 17, 2010
Location: Aberdeenshire

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