NATURE: Gannets prefer Scotland, it seems

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Scotland has been confirmed as world's leading habitat for gannets, with more than 50 per cent of the population coming there to breed. According to a survey of breeding colonies in the East Atlantic, 167,407 individual breeding sites were discovered in Scotland.

The population,says a report in the journal Scottish Birds, has increased by 2.4 per cent a year since the last complete survey, 10 years ago.

Sarah Wanless, the report's author, said: "Lack of human interference, and positive protection, is probably the major reason for this. But we still do not know enough about what they eat and, like all sea birds, they may be vulnerable to major changes in the fisheries around our coasts."

The gannet, once known as the solan goose, is Britain's most striking sea bird. The adults have a wingspan of up to 6ft and weigh about 7lbs.