The colony of Northern Gannets at Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth has been confirmed as the world’s largest colony with around 75,000 occupied sites, an increase of 24 percent since the last count in 2009.
Stuart Murray, who carried out the count in conjunction with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said: "The colony was photographed from the air on 23 June 2014. Conditions were excellent, with no wind and a high cover of thick cloud which obscured the sun, reducing the glare from all these startlingly white birds. The images were later viewed on computer screens for counting and each occupied site was blocked-out as it was counted.
"Interestingly, the most dramatic increase is between the old lighthouse keepers’ garden and the summit of the Rock. We counted around 10,000 sites in this area compared with 6,500 five years ago."
Sarah Wanless, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: “It is particularly heartening to see them doing so well when so many other seabirds in Scotland appear to be in trouble, however, the Bass Rock is a small island and the gannets have now filled most of the available nesting habitat. The colony now has only very limited capacity for further increase.”