Since 2007, the Aquarium has been working with the local RSPB team to allow Aquarium visitors to get a bird’s eye view of the magnificent seabird colony at RSPB Troup Head, 15 miles along the coast from Macduff, via a live camera link between the cliff top and the aquarium.
Troup Head is the only site on the Scottish mainland where gannets come to nest each summer and raise their chicks. The gannets first arrived at the 50m high cliffs in the 1980’s and there are now over 2,000 pairs, as well as countless guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes, fulmars and shags. From April to September Troup Head is a bustling, noisy seabird city!
Gannets are Europe’s largest seabird, weighing 3kg and with a wingspan of 2m. They feed on fish which they catch by plunge diving from heights of 12m!
Gannets breed for the first time when they are 5 years old. The male builds a nest from seaweeds, grasses and excreta and both parents share the job of keeping the egg warm. The chicks hatch in June and the parents feed them regurgitated fish until they are ready to fledge in September. The chicks then take a flying leap off the cliff ledge, soar for a while, before landing with a splash in the sea. The chicks have so much ‘puppy fat’ that they are too heavy to take off from the water’s surface so have to paddle around for a week or two until they lose weight and are able to fly.
The live camera link operates at the aquarium daily for real time gannet action. To see the gannets in the flesh, you can visit Troup Head by foot (though the headland is very exposed and uneven under foot – not for the faint hearted) or by taking a boat trip with Guide Charter Cruises.
The live camera link was funded in 2012 by the People’s Postcode Trust.