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Day 3,4 Anstruther: Puffins!

May 8,9, 2011

On Sunday morning, we went down for breakfast and ordered the same as yesterday since it was so good. Our B&B host then called a cab to take us to Edinburgh Airport to pick up our rental car. We rented from Hertz because we needed to return the car at the Holyhead Ferry terminal in Wales and they were the only company I could find that had this option. Our car was a KIA 5-door hatchback with only 100 miles on it. It was a good size for us; small enough but not too squishy. We decided to splurge and get an automatic. Mike said it was worth it.

We decided instead of going straight to Anstruther where our next B&B was, we would first head up to Stonehaven to see Dunnotar Castle. It is south of Aberdeen. Unfortunately it started to pour as we made our way onto the highway. When we arrived at the castle it was shrouded in fog. We took some photos, disappointed at the weather. We couldn't even see the castle from the car park, but we could when we walked down the path. I guess it made for some moody photos.

We went into the town of Stonehaven to have a bite of lunch. We stopped at the Waterfront Cafe Bar right on the ocean and warmed up with BBQ chicken toasties and a coffee for Mike and hot chocolate for me. We then headed back out to the castle to see if it had cleared up any. It was still very foggy.
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We headed down towards Anstruther, following the coast. We drove through Dundee and then St. Andrews (right past the golf course!). When we arrived in Anstruther, I couldn't remember where the B&B was located. Parking at the harbour, we called the owner and she directed us to her house. We stayed at Crichton House B&B which was £30 per person per night. We had a medium sized room with double bed, ensuite bathroom and view over the harbour. Our host, Annie, was very friendly and made wonderful breakfasts. We had private parking for the car behind the house. We stayed two nights here.

We settled in and then took a walk down to the harbour. The light was falling nicely on the boats and houses so we took photos. For supper, we went to The Waterfront Restaurant on the street facing the harbour. I had oriental scallops in a sauce with noodles. It was different but good. Mike had fish & chips of course. £26.90.
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We tried to phone home but couldn't get the phone to work. After contacting the SIM card company, I found that I wasn't using the right country code for Canada. I spent the evening downloading our photos onto my netbook.

May 9

On Monday we woke up to a clear blue sky. I was happy because this was the day we were to take our boat trip to the Isle of May to see the puffins. We went to to the harbour to pay for our tickets and the lady there said that the weather was rough and there was a chance we wouldn't be able to land. We decided to try anyway. Apparently the trip the day before was cancelled because of the rough weather. They don't sail on Tuesdays, so this was our only chance.

About 15 people decided to give it a try and we headed out. It was a 45 minute trip. The swells were quite large and 4 people were seasick. We have our own boat at home and are used to waves so we weren't even queasy.

We saw northern gannets, razorbills, guillimots and puffins in the water and flying around the island as we got nearer. We arrived at the harbour entrance which was very narrow and had craggy rocks on each side. The captain said it was too rough at the moment so he would take us for a ride around the island. We saw seals in the water and basking on the rocks. There were hundreds of birds on the tall cliffs.
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The boat went all around the island and back to the harbour entrance and the captain decided to try to go in. We didn't think he would. I think he made an effort because he was carrying groceries for the biologists who were living on the island studying the birds. They didn't get their food the day before. The boat was tied up and we were told that we had 2 1/2 hours to expore. We had left Anstruther at 10:00 and landed at 12:00.
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Everyone was told to stay to the paths. The puffins had burrows all over and if we stepped on one we might crush the female and her chick. There were also many rabbit holes and hundreds of rabbits.

It was a bit disappointing because there didn't seem to be very many puffins to be seen on land near the paths. The females were in the burrows and the males were mainly out on the ocean. We could see hundreds in the water. But we did see some to take photos of.

We saw thousands of guillimots, razorbills, gulls and kittiwakes on the cliffs. We walked around most of the island. There were common eiderducks here and there and a few Oystercatchers. There were no trees.
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Then it was time for the boat to leave. The captain had to turn the boat around in the narrow harbour. It was tricky and the boat did bump up against the rocks. But finally we were out. It was rougher than when we first arrived. We got back to Anstruther around 3:30. After browsing in the tourist information store we went for an early dinner of...fish and chips! £21.

Posted by Karen E 19:18

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