Amazing Wildlife of the UK and off-shore Islands.


One of the best places in the UK to see gannets up close and personal is the Bass Rock off North Berwick in the Firth of Forth, Scotland –  the largest colony of Northern Gannets.    So much so that I have been back a second time to take the boat across from Dunbar with a small group of photographers, supervised by the lovely Maggie Sheddon to ensure we respect these amazing birds.   If you are lucky enough to have the right weather for landing here, you can carefully pick your way up the slopes to sit amongst the gannets quietly and observe and photograph them for a couple of hours!  Such bliss and such a privilege! An amazing spectacle of around 150,000 gannets.   They are Britain’s largest seabird  and remain on  Bass Rock until the end of October when they begin their long  journey down the West Coast of Africa.   The Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick has live webcams situated in several areas of the Rock so that visitors can observe these beautiful birds in the comfort of the centre!   They fold their wings back to streamline their bodies for diving, but landing back on the rock is a sight to behold!  They fly in like an unwieldy jumbo jet and crash land in an ungainly fashion, sometimes on top of others!!



_mg_5738The Gannet (Morus bassanus). Morus is from the Ancient Greek meaning “foolish”, given to the gannets for the lack of fear shown by breeding gannets, allowing them to be easily killed._mg_5751_mg_5749_mg_5578_mg_5473_mg_5694I wandered the Northumberland Coast with its spectacular scenery and drove across at low tide to the Farne Islands, another wonderful place for puffins, cormorants, kittiwakes, razorbills,  seals and  terns, although a hat is a must here as the terns nest on the ground adjacent to the paths and dive bomb visitors aggressively to protect their young and have been known to draw blood!!  A tripod comes in handy here to hold above your head! _mg_4933Bamburgh Castle.


_mg_5139The Puffin. (Fratercula arctica)_mg_4979

_mg_7635_mg_5096The Arctic Tern.(Sterna Paradisaea)_mg_5023The Kittiwake. (Rissa Tridactyla)_mg_5044_mg_4974

_mg_5060The Shag. (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)_mg_4998_mg_4940

Grey Seals (Halichoerus gripus)


Common (or Harbour) Seal (Phoca vitulina)

_mg_7622The Razorbill.(Alca Torda)_mg_5216St.Abbs Head, Northumberland.


Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides (after Skye) off the West coast of Scotland.  The island has a mountainous core with the highest peak Ben More at 3169 feet.   Tobermory is a great base to explore this beautiful island where a wealth of wildlife makes its home including white-tailed and golden eagles, hen harriers, short-eared owls, pine martens, and otters. Off shore, basking sharks, porpoises and dolphins and  minke whales can be seen, but the highland cattle also found a place in my heart!!




Aigas House, run by Sir John and Lady Lucy Lister-Kaye,  is Scotland’s first and foremost centre for nature study and wildlife holidays and education.  It is a private family estate tucked into the natural bowl on the sunny side of Strathglass – a beautiful wooded and secluded glen through which the River Glass flows from the high mountainous peaks of Glen Affric to the estuarine mud flats of the Beauly Firth.  On the estate itself, there are pine martens, badgers, otters, red and roe deer, foxes and a  scottish wildcat captive  breeding programme. There is loch in the grounds, into which beavers have been re-introduced from Norway with a loch side hide (built by Johnny Kingdom in 2007) for beaver watching.  Another hide created with Laurie Campbell, a wildlife photographer and lecturer at Aigas, draws in pine martens  nightly with controlled feeding!  The Norwegian expert on beavers came to visit while I was there and we spent time in the hide together watching the entrapment of a young beaver cub for him to be able to determine its sex.   After a few hours of the beaver putting its nose into the trap, smelling the apple and carrot enticements, it finally went  in!  We all cheered, and it was released  back into the loch the next morning – a young female!


Beaver (Castor fiber)


Pine Marten (Martes martes)



Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris)


Otter (Lutra lutra)


Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

CHANONRY POINT, Black Isle, Moray Firth.

I have visited Chanonry Point several times  in the hope of seeing the bottle nosed dolphins that chase the salmon into a narrow part of the Firth by Fortrose.  I met Charlie Phillips there on my first visit, a wildlife photographer who works for the W.D.C.S. (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society), who has captured some remarkable shots through sheer patience and understanding of the dolphin’s movements.


Bottle nose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

The above photograph  was one of my best shots, which was awarded  a commendation in a WDCS competition!  Charlie’s advice paid off!  I have met him a couple of time since, he seems to spend all his life at the Point – like me, he is hooked on these wonderful cetaceans!bottlenose-dolphins-of-the-moray-firth-by-a31

The following  close up images  of  some beautiful British wildlife were taken  at the BBC Wildlife Centre in Surrey, where I spent the day with  Heather Angel,  a wonderful wildlife photographer and author, who had just returned from photographing the snow monkeys in Japan.   Her stories and images made me determined to take this trip too, and by chance, I met with another photographer at Chanonry Point who just happened to be organising just such a trip the following spring and I was lucky enough to take up the last space available!


Barn Owl (Tyto alba)


Little Owl (Athene noctua)


Hedgehog   (Erinaceinae)