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Going Deep

Cliff top view showing the trails that gannets leave during a 3 second exposure.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson

Cliff top view as gannets hang in Force 8 gales above raging seas. September.

I sat precariously perched at the top of a crumbling 150m cliff, a biting 65mph northerly whipping my face and numbing my hands. The ferocious wind was relentless, buffeting my camera and trying to drive me breathless from my perch. Below me the ocean raged, revealing its aquamarine and turquoise hues, a stunning backdrop as scores of gannets glided past. Whilst I was on the margins these it seems are the conditions in which the gannets thrive, their 6 foot wingspan braced as they glided past. This is the staggering beauty of Britain’s most northerly tip, the National Nature Reserve of Hermaness and which had been my home under canvas for the last 3 months.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson

Evening light falls on Bass Rock, an island in the Firth of Forth that supports a staggering 140,000 gannets. May.

A sunlit Bass rock towers out of the Firth of Forth and is home to a cackling cacophony of some 150,000 gannets. Photographed from the mainland I wanted to try and show the formidable scale of this ancient volcano and the staggering size of its gannet colony, the largest single island colony in the world. Access by visitors is allowed but the landing can be tricky but for experiencing these majestic creatures up close there is no better place.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson

An adult plunge diving in evening sunlight. July.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson

Three adults line up on their respective nests. July.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Part of the gannetry on an exposed promontory.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson

A growing chick gaping. August.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson

Hundreds of gannets, having just taken off from a small, non breeding island roost, in flight over the ocean.

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson

An adult, backlit by morning sunlight, wing stretching. September.

Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK

Photo: Photograph by Andrew Parkinson