Bass Rock


Saturday 12th August 2000, East Lothian
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Pentland Hills from Gosford Bay

Gosford Bay

WE PARK overlooking the bay with a view towards the Pentland Hills and Cockenzie power station. I enjoy painting this little sketch, drawing directly with the brush, rather than sketching pencil guidelines to get started.

oystercatcheroystercatcherFrom this viewpoint we're aware that there are one or two gulls about, but scanning with binoculars we see a dozen or more Oystercatchers and a pair of waders (redshanks?) probing the sand at the water's edge.

Gullane Bay

I pick up a handful of shells from one square foot of the strandline.

razorshellThis small Razor shell, is smooth with ochre bands of colour. Using a muscular foot the razorshell burrows in sand.

tellin The Thin Tellin, which also burrows in sand is found from the Mediterranean to the Baltic.

striped venusThe Striped Venus looks like a smoother version of the cockle.

cockleThe Cockle, which burrows in mud, sand and gravel has a stronger, ribbed shell.

limpet Toughest of all is the Limpet, which hunkers down against bare rock, holding itself in place with a strong muscular 'foot'. Unlike the others, there isn't a matching half to this shell; the limpet is more closely related to the garden snail than it is to the bivalves shown above, although, like them, it is a mollusc.

shore crab and barnacle The Barnacle which had attached itself to the shell of this small Shore Crab may look like a limpet but it's not a mollusc at all; it's an arthropod, more closely related to the crab than to the bivalves or limpet.

On this broken shore crab carapace (upper part of the shell) you can see the three blunt teeth at the front and the five sharp teeth on either side.

North Berwick

Bass Rock We sample the tacos and potato wedges at the Seabird Centre, which was officially opened by Prince Charles in May. It's busy today but we manage to get a table on the terrace set on a low cliff by the harbour, with a view out to the Bass Rock, which appears to be snow-capped because of the thousands of Gannets which are nesting there. Like Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and nearby North Berwick Law, the Rock is a 300 million year old volcanic plug.

Related Link the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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