I’ll give updates on my time at the conference later. 🙂
Birds and nature today! Hooray! Today I went on the Seabird excursion sponsored by the conference. About 36 conference people attended include Mike Appleby who was our leader of sorts as a native Scottsman. Mostly Amy, our new friend Bryan, and I hung out.
We got there and got to go in a SeaBird Discovery Center which was quite cool. We had a little slide show on the birds and creatures we might see on the tour. As ethologists our group asked excellent questions after the normal presentation.
Today I saw Bass Island which hosts the largest colony of Northern Gannets: 150,000 individuals! Currently with about 50,000 chicks! Clearly it is an extremely important place for the gannet. The gannet is a beautiful white bird with a yellow-ish head and a wing span on 2 meters. It is very graceful when it flies and fished by diving underwater when. It mates for life and lays 1 egg each season.
The whole rock isn’t that large. So all the birds are right next to each other as packed as possible. Down low near the water where there aren’t good nesting sites there are “juvenile camps” for the young gannets.
I also saw another island with a large puffy colony. There are about 95,000 puffins that nest on that island. Puffins are cool little birds that, while not graceful above water (their wings beat 200 tim e a minute), in the water they can fly. They are good hunters, catching 16-63 sand eels (tiny fish at omce).
We also saw shags, cormorants,herring gulls, common gulls, and a grey seal
It was awesome and really great weather for Scotland. After the trip we had enough time to hike to the top of a hill in town. On the hike we saw wild Exmor ponies! Pretty great! After hiking I opted for a getting some ice cream and looking at the tide pools.
Finally we headed back to Edinburgh and said goodbye to Bryan and our conference friends. I took a little nap, went out to eat once more at Heller’s Kitchen which was delicious. And then packed and got ready to leave!