Sitting at North Berwick harbour in East Lothian the Scottish Seabird Centre allows an opportunity to get up really close to Britain’s seabirds without putting them at risk from disturbance. This award winning centre uses state of the art technology to bring the real life dramas of nature to within easy reach of all no matter their age or ability. The islands of the Forth are Inchkeith, Fidra, the Lamb, The Isle of May and the Bass Rock. The seabird centre has remote cameras installed at strategic points on several of these islands and the varied flora and fauna can be seen in minute detail.
The East Lothian islands are home to puffins, guillemots, peregrine falcons, razorbills, shags, cormorants, kittiwakes, fulmars, gannets, Atlantic grey seals and much more. Each island has its own varied make up and specialities and many of these can be seen from this North Berwick focal point. Powerful telescopes at the centre are available at a panoramic viewing deck giving stunning views and a chance to spot birds, seals and cetaceans. Boat safaris head out to the islands giving wildlife enthusiasts the chance to get even closer.
The Isle of May has the largest colony of Atlantic grey seals on the eastern British seaboard and these animals produce light covered pups in the autumn. These can be seen throughout the winter from the centre’s innovative camera system. This island is also home to 100.000 puffins and these parrot-like small auks are a fascinating draw during the summer months. The Isle of May is also where the first Scottish Lighthouse was situated. There has been over 250 species of bird recorded here and this island has a bird observatory of long standing.
Fidra has a camera specialising in close-up shots of birds like the guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and peregrine falcons. This islet has a lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson the grandson of author Robert Louis Stevenson. R L Stevenson is said to have taken Fidra as his inspiration for Treasure Island. The Lamb is a tiny seabird metropolis with fulmars, kittiwakes, cormorants and the larger auks. Craigleith sits only a short distance out to sea from the centre. It is an isle of gulls and puffins and other seabirds. It has suffered greatly from the invasive plant called sea mallow and steps are now being taken to eradicate this problem. This woody plant makes it difficult for the puffins to move freely to and from the nest holes and many birds have died because of it.
The final island is the Bass Rock one of the largest colonies of Atlantic Gannets in the world. It is an important wildlife refuge which in the season is absolutely swarming with huge flocks of these large seabirds. There are two cameras trained on The Bass Rock and these can be manoeuvred and panned and zoomed on different parts of the refuge and on individual birds. These cameras are even fitted with remote washers to keep the lenses clean. The centre is open every day except Christmas Day and even in bad weather there is usually a lot to see and do.