July 9th   Leave a comment

One of Crail’s best wildlife sights is gannets. We have one of the world’s largest gannetries on our doorstep and even without binoculars you can’t help but notice these massive white and black birds constantly passing Crail. A real highlight is to sit on the rocks at Fife Ness and wait for some of them to start fishing. It’s not uncommon to have tens of gannets diving in a frenzy right in front of you. The gannets want to get deep into the water as quickly as possible to surprise fish so dive from, sometimes, tens of meters above the water to build up momentum. They shoot into the water like arrows, with such speed and density that you wonder that they won’t damage themselves or even hit each other in the apparent melee. When you look at a dive closely, however, it is absolute precision, the gannet effectively folding itself into a javelin to streamline itself and to reduce the force as it hits the water. There is a tale of a gannet killing itself by diving onto a fishing boat deck with such force that its bill stuck itself several centimeters into the decking: getting their streamlining right (as well as actually hitting some water!) must be very important. I imagine young, inexperienced birds have a perpetual headache.

Gannet on the look out

Gannet on the look out

Diving gannet

Diving gannet

Posted August 9, 2016 by wildcrail in Sightings

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