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Firth of Forth Cruise, 2006

Forth Rail Bridge, Edinburgh

With absolutely no apologies for a blast from the past hot on the heels of the previous one – and it does allow me to mention 500 starlings feeding outside my window – I’ve rediscovered a four-year-old favourite from Sunday, June 11:

“An intrepid seven embarked on the Maid of the Forth in search of puffins and other denizens of the briny. In spite of assurances from he-who-should-know-better that they lay many leagues distant, several ‘parrots of the sea’ bobbed obligingly on the water round the Forth Bridge; indeed they were ever-present on the three-hour cruise in mill-pond conditions and a heat haze. Fulmars and gannets also seemed to escort our boat on its voyage.

“Sandwich and common terns soon made themselves obvious before Inchcolm Island (in Fife) introduced many to the fact that gulls are not just seagulls but five different species breeding in the Firth. Eiders and their cuddly creche of ducklings provided an ‘aah’ moment when the more sinister side of life on the ocean wave manifested itself in the guise of a great skua. This too likes baby ducks but more as an appetiser to its main course of pilfered fish. A couple of herring gulls policed the pirate away from their eggs, thereby providing a sort of community service for the residents of the island.

“The passage from Inchcolm to Inchkeith (also in Fife) revealed guillemots and razorbills – also from the puffins’ auk family – and the first Manx shearwater gliding, albatross-like, a foot or so above the water. The kittiwake and shag colonies at Inchkeith added more species to the trip list as did the day’s sole great black-backed gull. The journey back to Hawes via Inchmickery and past the distant Manhattan skyline of Leith recapped most of the birds hitherto seen.

“Landfall preceded lunch in The Rail Bridge where digestion was aided or otherwise by a mini-bagpiper and finally the Raft Race Fair exercised the child in some of us.”

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