RSPB Troup Head

28/08/2019
Abi Warner

I decided to go up to Troup Head, an RSPB reserve in Aberdeenshire which has the largest Mainland, UK., Gannet colony, to try and get some photos of the baby Gannets (Guga’s).

I have been there a few times before but never specifically to photograph the Guga’s.

I love Troup Head. It’s funny when you arrive at the reserve for the first time, you have no idea of what you are walking into, and then suddenly, when you get near the gate to the reserve, it is like a sudden onslaught to the senses, the smell, the noise and a sky full of birds.

The cliffs where the Gannets nest are very steep, so it’s not for the fainthearted, or anyone with vertigo. It was a clear bright day, initially not too sunny and although we did not arrive until midday, we were surprised to find that there was no-one there, apart from a guy, who was putting up a new camera to monitor the birds.

When we arrived, I walked to the end of the reserve and was saddened to see a Gannet trapped in the barbed wire fence and bleeding. I rushed back to the guy on the cliff, who said he thought it was already dead, but when I told him it was alive and in distress he went back and freed it, but thought that it was too badly hurt and would not survive.

There were lots of Guga’s on the cliffs, though they were,  lower down on the cliffs and were fairly well hidden by the adults.

Gannets only lay one egg a year and are rarely left alone by their parents.

Chicks that are left unattended are often killed by other gannets

I found a good spot where I could see them in two different positions and I set up my camera. Considering the adult Gannet is such a stunning bird, with its bright blue eye and the soft yellow around its neck.

The Guga is not quite what you would expect. It is like a cotton wall ball with an old black wrinkled head. In some ways, it looks quite pre-historic. I must have stood photographing for 3 and a half hours.

The weather was fantastic, very sunny but with enough cloud most of the time, so the whites of the birds weren’t burning out, but bright enough that even when using my 800/1000mm lens, I could have the Iso at 800 and  still get very fast speeds to enable me to capture the action.

The Guga’s were so much fun to watch, whether mimicking the adults or feeding or being shown how to preen themselves.

I couldn’t leave without getting a few photos of the adorable and so beautiful adult Gannets.

Enjoy looking.

I love this shot of them both looking the same way

This photo shows the mimicking of the adults so well and I love this photo of the two adults on the cliff edge, the sea highlights the beautiful yellow of the neck so well at the same time as highlighting the bright blue eye.

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Abi Warner
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