Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Nature of Scotland (Day 5)

Hopefully, we are now back home to stay for awhile! My mom lives about 4 hours away and she's been watching our dog for about 5 weeks - while we traveled to Las Vegas, then Scotland & Ireland, and then camp in Galveston. Whew!

I thought I'd write my journal entry first and then post photos with descriptions. I'm afraid I might be making my posts confusing by mixing the two. So, here is my journal from Day 5...

I got up at 6:50 this morning so I guess I've adjusted to the time change. (One of us) got up at 4:50 for a trip to the bathroom and it was already light out! (I looked it up online and they had "twilight" from 3:50 am until 10:46 pm that day! On the same day, Houston had twilight from 6:04 until 8:51. It was really strange to see so much daylight!)

We had breakfast here at the B&B. Mainly, I had fruit and croissants. I tried two bites of haggis - it was OK. It kind of tasted like meat loaf though the texture was different -softer. I also tried black pudding. It was kind of like jello but tasted gross. (From Wikipedia: Haggis is an offal dish containing sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, otameal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Black pudding or blood pudding is a type of sausage made by cooking blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.)

We went about 30 miles away to the Sea Center. We spent a couple of hours climbing the rocks and looking in the tide pools. We mainly saw periwinkles and limpets. We saw a couple of small red anenomes and small fish.

Alex waded in a cement enclosed pool and said it was very cold. Some of the children were wearing wet suits. There were tons of periwinkles in the pool! We collected quite a few shells from the beach.

We toured the museum and got to see live cameras out on the islands that we could control. We watched two movies - one about gannets and one about puffins.

Then, we took a fast boat out to the 2 islands to see the birds and the seals. It is nesting season for the gannets and we saw quite a few baby birds. We got to see a few puffins. Bass Rock is the largest single rock rookery in the world!

We went to a castle ruin and it started pouring, but we had fun anyway. We ended the day with a wonderful dinner and walked around Edinburgh.

Alex in her suit to go out on the boat. I thought these suits were to protect us from the rain. Both in Ireland & Scotland we would get rained on 2-3 times a day. But, we later found out these suits protect you from the bird "droppings!"

This photo is from the first island we went to on the boat. These black & white birds are called guillmots. Both the Sea Center with the live cameras and the boat ride can be found at this site.

The cormarant on the left is not as black and it's a baby. I got a great series of about 4 photos showing this adult feeding the baby! In this photo, you can see the baby's head is actually in it's parent's mouth and it's beak is practically poking through the other side!

These are grey seals. Breeding season was already over, but there were a handful of adult and (large) baby seals still hanging around.

This is a photo of Bass Rock. During the height of the rookery season, it houses about 140,000 gannets!!! (And, yes this was prime season!) Sir David Attenborough describes Bass Rock as "one of the wildlife wonders of the world." It was an incredible site!

These birds are gannets. There were many babies scattered among the adults. If you've seen the IMAX film Wild Ocean (or other ocean shows), you might have seen the gannets when they are diving for sardines. They "fly" underwater!

These 2 gannets are doing a typical gannet behavior where they use their beaks kind of like swords. You can see their baby directly to their right.

This is a familiy of Kittiwakes of the gull family. Isn't the baby precious?

Here is the lighthouse & part of the castle on Bass Rock. The castle was eventually used as a prison and our tour guids said it was their "Alcatraz." The lighthouse was designed by a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson. In one of his books, Catriona, the sequel to Kidnapped, one of the charcters is imprisoned at Bass Rock.

Here's a photo of Bass Rock as we were leaving it. All of those white spots are birds! (Well, and some droppings.)

This is a photo of Alex & I on the boat. We were thankful for these beautiful suits with their hoods... Alex, Nana & Papa all got a little present from the thousands of birds, so these suits were protecting their regular clothes! (I don't know how I was spared as I was sitting between Alex & Nana!)
These next photos were taken at Tantallon Castle in Scotland. It was built in 1350 and was resided in for over 300 years. It was pouring as we toured the castle and it is a ruin so we got very wet. But, we had a lot of fun exploring this old castle!

More of the castle. You can see Bass Rock from this castle - it faces the lighthouse & castle on that island.

More of the castle ruin.

Back to Edinburgh for the evening and dinner. I believe this might be the Holyrood Palace that we toured later.

This is Alex in a close, which is kind of like an alley though most of them have stairs. They are found between lots of buildings.

This is what the streets of Edinburgh look like. I thought it was so beautiful!

Isn't the architecture amazing?

No, this wasn't our hotel (we stayed at a B&B and I didn't photograph it... oops!). But, isn't this amazing for a hotel? All of the hotels in downtown Edinburgh looked like this. Oh, and in case you didn't know, Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland.


  1. Amazing stuff. Love the bird island minus the mess.

  2. Wow Bass Rock is amazing! All those birds! Thank goodness for those suits. LOL! That lighthouse photo was just awesome and thanks for the info on it. The structures are gorgeous there in Scotland. Your photos are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Great pictures! What a fabulous trip!

  4. How cool to tour the ruins of a castle! Isn't that green grass luscious. I think of these pictures when I read the Rosemary Sudcliffe (?) books at the end of TOG Y1U4! I can't get over how enchanted I get with pictures and books like that!

  5. Wow - Bass Rock is amazing! Must have been so neat to see animals you don't get to see at home. The architecture really is incredible, too! Love all the pictures.

  6. I am SO behind on my blogs and I haven't touched mine in weeks. But I'm really enjoying going through yours. Your pictures are amazing and I'm loving your insight. Edinburgh looks so cool, but the streets seem so narrow that I'd be scared to drive on them. Did you take taxis everywhere?
    Bass Rock looked amazing but disgusting. Man! That was a lot of 'droppings'! Do you think they go in and power wash every year?....LOL!