Northumberland, Bird Club

An attacking tern. Picture by Jane Coltman
An attacking tern. Picture by Jane Coltman

Our speaker, Charles Everitt, has been a photographer for many years.

After a four-year project culminating in a book covering the Water of Leith, he decided to photograph the East Lothian coastline from Longniddry to Tantallon Castle.

This he did mostly on a Wednesday night for the next four years.

We saw the contrast of how different light and different weather could change a landscape completely.

How do you make concrete defence blocks look interesting?

With a sunset of course.

We travelled first from Longniddry Bents with its flowers, through Gosford Bay, Kilspindie and Craigielaw to Aberlady Bay seeing the different landscapes and flora as well as learning a little about the area.

In Aberlady Bay at low tide one can see the remains of eight old fishing boats from the late 18th and early 19th century; also visible are two mini-submarines 51’ by 5’, each built for a crew of four and powered by the engine of a double decker bus.

These two were used for nothing after training except target practice, but four others went up the Norwegian fjords and mined the German Battleship Tirpitz.

Then of course there are the geese that come to roost in the bay.

We carried on to Gullane past the saltmarshes a haven for wildlife and birds.

We heard how the Sea Buckthorn had been made into a bright orange sauce in Duns but as yet not tasted by our speaker.

Leading up to the break we had a lovely sequence of pictures set to the music of Enya, which gave a wonderful feel of the area.

Following the break there was a sequence called “natural abstracts”.

This was done by using different effects and movement to create abstract pictures of the sea and shorelines.

We then moved on past the islands of Fidra, Lamb Island (owned by Uri Geller) and Craigleith, which has been cleared of tree mallow to encourage the reintroduction of puffins.

The Isle of May is famed for its lighthouses as well as its birdlife.

The Bass Rock is the home of the gannets in the breeding season.

Back on the mainland we moved along the steep cliffs past the hidden hamlet of Canty Bay, a former fishing hamlet near North Berwick, now a house and two cottages used by the Scouts and Guides.

Next was Gin Head built in 1943 to intercept communications between enemy destroyers and U-boats, now up for sale at £3.5 million.

Our final destination was Tantallon Castle built in the mid-14th century by the 1st Earl of Douglas.

It is now a ruin but occupies a dramatic situation on its promontory opposite Bass Rock.

Thus we completed our photographic journey down the Lothian coastline seeing it in all its lights and moods along with the flora and birdlife.

Finally there was a lovely sequence, again set to music, covering the area from Yellowcraigs to Tantallon Castle to finish off what was a most enjoyable evening with excellent photography and a little history on the way.