Wildlife sightings 18 May 2017

What’s on the cameras from Discovery Centre team – Erin

All three eggs belonging to shags Charlie and Lola have now hatched over on the Isle of May. The first two arrived this past Sunday while the third and final egg hatched a few days later, on Wednesday. Not long after a shag chick has hatched, either parent will normally dispose of the empty shell by removing it from the nest. Seeing broken egg shells around nest sites, is always a good indication that any eggs have begun to hatch.

Cormorant chicks over on Craigleith are continuing to do well, growing a noticeable amount each day. As the chicks grow, neither parent will be able to sit on them to keep them warm. Therefore, they must gain a large fluffy layer of down for insulation to keep themselves warm.

The number of gannets sitting on eggs is still on the rise. A big thank you to Maggie for taking Francesca and I out to land on the Bass, the early start was definitely worth it!

There have also been several sightings of otters just outside the Centre. Most of them occurring from the café deck down to the right-hand side of the new harbour wall. The otters are most likely to be seen at low tide far out on the rocks, but anyone passing should keep an eye out.

Wildlife sightings 11 May 2017

Wildlife sightings from the Discovery Centre team – Erin

Our first chicks of the year that belong to a pair of cormorants on Craigleith are just over a week old and now a little bit more visible in their nest. Cormorant chicks grow very quickly and will be the size of their parents in a matter of weeks. The chicks will spend the next 6 -7 weeks in the nest before fledging, however once they leave they will continue to spend time with their parents going on family feeding trips. We have been able to spot a couple more nests with chicks across the Craigleith cormorant colony, but are now eager to spot the first shag chicks over on the May. We suspect the first chicks will come from Charlie and Lola but are continuing to find new nest sights. One pair of shags have decided to nest in a small cave close to our camera and have been appropriately named Fred and Wilma after the Flintstones.

Although some eggs are already beginning to hatch, many are still to be laid. We are just starting to see some guillemot eggs on our Fidra north camera. Unfortunately, with guillemot eggs the saying strength in numbers is very true and some of the earliest eggs spotted, didn’t make it very long. This time of the year makes it very easy for gulls to pick off any eggs but we will soon see them lasting longer as the adults start to form larger and stronger colonies, all protecting their single eggs.

Gannet eggs are appearing all over the place and with many sites close to our cameras now containing eggs, we have been able to see plenty up close. It will be a good few weeks before they start to hatch, but hopefully we will have found a few not long into June.

Some seals have been seen across Craigleith and the May, both swimming in the water and basking on the rocks. It has been a quiet few weeks with peregrine sightings but we have seen a couple over Fidra and Craigleith the last few days. Puffins have been hanging around a lot more recently and some days we have been able to observe them well into the afternoon.

Check out the action live from our webcams. 

Wildlife sightings 4 May 2017

Sightings from the Discovery Centre cameras – Alex

This week saw our first chicks of the season when yesterday Scott spotted a cormorant chick on the Craigleith colony. It is still of course very small and difficult to see so it was a great spot! Many of the cormorant nests have eggs so it won’t be too long before there will be chicks in each nest.

The gannets continue to lay eggs and each day more and more nests are being seen with an egg. There have been no early breakages such as the those of last year, so far so good! Some of the younger parents who are still learning about being a parent will unfortunately land on their nest too quickly or knock the egg out of the nest by accident. Although there are 75,000 apparently occupied nests, it is unlikely of course that each nest will have a successful egg or even a chick. The first chicks are often seen in June following 6/7 weeks of incubation.

Puffins continue to return in their numbers and we are seeing them on the cameras way into late afternoon. A complete contrast to a few weeks ago when they were off back out on the water by noon. We have also been seeing some activity on our burrow camera which is exciting news! The camera has been down in the burrow for at least 7 years now and we hope to observe the pair of puffins have another successful year. However, it may be that the puffins are now aware of us watching them as Jill and Malcolm observed a puffin yesterday tapping the camera! Thankfully no harm done and we still have a clear view of the burrow entrance.

The remaining species on the islands such as shags, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes both on the islands and at Dunbar are doing really well. We are yet to see the first shag chicks, or the first eggs from the guillemots and razorbills. The peregrines have been very quiet this week with very few appearances from any of the individuals.

Click HERE to view the webcams.

Wildlife sightings 27 April 2017

What can be seen on camera from the Discovery Centre team – Helen

Eggs abound! We spotted our first gannet eggs this week! We already have cormorant and shag eggs on camera. Puffins have been around a fair bit and we’ve seen activity in the puffin burrow on the ‘burrowcam’. Some new shags have moved in on the Isle of May cliff so it’s getting quite busy there. As many are ringed, we get to recognise them easily. As well as Charlie and Lola we saw last year, we also have Sid and Nancy, Burton and Taylor – new birds nesting for the first time – and the ‘des res’ nest in the cave, occupied again after a few years of being empty. We have wonderful views of razorbills just below the cameras on Craigleith, guillemots cover the stacks on the Isle of May. Hundreds of eiders have been bobbing around near Craigleith, and a few seals were spotted chilling out, too.

Keep up-to-date with the Scottish Seabird Centre cameras HERE.

Wildlife sightings 21 April 2017

Seabird sightings from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

We are getting great views on all the islands just now. We have seen that Charlie and Lola, our Isle of May shag pair, have laid at least one more egg. We’ve also heard from the Isle of May staff that they have seen puffin eggs for the first time this year. Our puffins on Craigleith are still proving inconsistent with them appearing and disappearing random. Elsewhere on Craigleith though there are a vast number of cormorant eggs which is good to see.

We have found a new peregrine falcon lately which was a bit of a surprise. We don’t know where it has come from but it is significantly darker than most peregrines and has been seen on both Craigleith and Fidra. We are keeping a close eye on this bird along with our resident peregrines who we are still seeing regularly.

Many people follow the progress of our kittiwakes, particularly those at Dunbar harbour who are still fairly scarce. The ones on Fidra and Isle of May look to be doing well, successfully competing for space amongst the fulmars, guillemots and razorbills for space on the narrow rock ledges. The guillemots are really gathering in number lately and remaining in once place all day, usually a sign that they are breeding.

Gannets are still thriving but we have not found any eggs yet. It is very possible that some have been laid but we are struggling to find them. Hopefully our second operational camera will make this egg hunt a bit easier!

Keep up-to-date with the action online HERE.

Wildlife sightings 13 April 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

180417 la Bass

It’s been another busy week as the season begins in earnest. Our long-time resident shags from the Isle of May, Charlie and Lola have been seen with at least one egg. They were our first parents last year and raised three healthy chicks so we will see how they fare this time. We have a new shag pair as well, Burton and Taylor (after Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) whom we are watching with interest as they have picked a prime site very near our camera. The razorbills and guillemots have gathered in number but don’t appear to have eggs yet.

Our cormorants on Craigleith also have eggs and are doing very well. The puffins are proving elusive today but have been around most of the week. This is common for puffins as they often disappear for several hours or days at a time before returning again. Our Craigleith peregrine has also been very prominent lately which is an unusual, but very welcome sighting.

We haven’t seen any gannet eggs yet but we are keeping a lookout, it shouldn’t be very long now. The Bass is very full and has taken on its familiar white colour. The gannets are even taking advantage of the wind and are flying very close to the Centre which is providing excellent views for those on the café deck.

A few visitors last week sighted some dolphins round the Bass Rock as well. Hopefully they make a few more appearances!

Wildlife sightings 6 April 2017

Wildlife sightings from the Seabird Centre’s Discovery Centre team – Alex

070417 la BR1

The gannets continue to grow in number on the Bass Rock and this will continue until we have the full 150,000 gannets. The first egg last year was 15 April. We have had some ‘reports’ of eggs but nothing confirmed so, gannet egg hunt for Easter weekend is still planned. We are seeing lots of courtship behaviour and mating so we don’t think it will be too long before the first egg is spotted! It is not just the cameras where we have been seeing gannets, but also just offshore from the Centre. Over the past few mornings gannets have been seen plunge diving just off the flood wall and harbour.

Puffins have come and gone quite quickly but they will be back on the islands as soon as they feel more settled. It happens every year when they return only for a few short days before heading back out to sea again. We still see a few rafting on the water off Craigleith but we are seeing very few on the actual islands.

Their relatives, the guillemots and razorbills, are being very active by comparison with lots of billing and preening on Fidra and Craigleith. We have also seen quite a few bridled guillemots on Fidra this past week. Despite the white streak from the eye and ‘monocle’ appearance, they are not a separate species but instead simply a different form of the common guillemot.

The peregrines continue to make appearances on Fidra, Bass Rock and Craigleith. We have been seeing some mating behaviour on Fidra this past week although it is not sure whether this is with the adult female or the juvenile daughter. We saw similar behaviour last year but, as we are unaware of where they nest, we never discovered whether any eggs were produced.

Check out the wildlife action on our website HERE.