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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK
Reserve to open at seabird colony
Gannet with chick
There are more than 1,500 gannet nests at Troup Head
A new RSPB nature reserve is set to open on the Aberdeenshire coast, allowing visitors to watch seabirds at Scotland's only mainland gannet colony.

The craggy cliffs of Troup Head provide a home to hundreds of thousands of gannets, guillemots and puffins.

The gannet population has exploded since 1988 when there were only four nests. Now there are more than 1,500.

RSPB Scotland said it hoped the reserve would help visitors realise the need to protect Scotland's coastal heritage.

The 4km stretch of land between Fraserburgh and Macduff has been designated as a Special Protection Area and a Site of Special Scientific Interest and was bought by RSPB Scotland two years ago.

Live pictures of the nesting colony will be beamed directly to Macduff Marine Aquarium and guided boat trips will begin next month.

We hope that a visit to the reserve will inspire people and help them realise the incredible value of Scotland's coastal and marine national heritage
Joanna McFarlane
RSPB Scotland

The reserve also offers views across the Moray Firth, where whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals are often seen.

Joanna McFarlane, RSPB Scotland's Troup Head community officer, said: "The facilities available here mean that the amazing Troup Head experience is accessible to absolutely everybody now - even those who might not be able or willing to take a bracing walk along the cliff tops themselves.

"The views from the sea are particularly extraordinary, and the sight of up to 150,000 seabirds, with all the cacophony of noise, commotion and hurly-burly that such a large seabird city gives rise to, makes for a thoroughly memorable experience not to be missed.

"We hope that a visit to the reserve will inspire people and help them realise the incredible value of Scotland's coastal and marine national heritage, and the need to protect it."

Climate change

Claire Matthews, education and marketing officer at Macduff Marine Aquarium, added: "We are delighted to be working with the RSPB on this project, especially to launch a new and exciting exhibit in time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the aquarium's opening.

"The live camera link with Troup Head will add much to the overall educational value of the aquarium and we hope it will be a major attraction for visitors."

Data gathered through seabird monitoring at Troup Head will contribute to and inform the debate on fisheries issues and climate change - the two biggest crises facing British and international populations of seabirds.

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