Wildlife sightings 3 August 2012

Wildlife sightings – Maggie

Bass Rock: Landing On the Bass this week I spotted two chicks unattended. Both nests, first time breeders, the chicks were obviously being fed. One adult returned while we were there. The other nest on the chapel wall had quite a young chick in. It was so good to see it had hatched as we had spotted this late egg a few weeks ago.

I called the Discovery Centre – although the chick would not be visible, the site is. Their mission, to monitor when or if the adult returned. Within half an hour of leaving the Rock they called, an adult had returned to the site. One to watch the progress of…

It won’t be long before the first guga will be making that arduous walk to the cliff edge. Watch for the ones near to fledging.

Isle of May: Puffins are still being seen although there is a feeling of the changing seasons.
An end of season update from Mark Newell, Centre of Hydrology & Ecology (CEH), is interesting. We know how the weather has affected many birds, in particular puffin burrows being flooded, but overall it has not been too bad.

Razorbills and guillemots: average; shags slightly better than expected; 50% of puffins fledged but the very welcome news that kittiwakes have had one of their best seasons. If the last chicks successfully fledge it could turn out to be one of the best breeding seasons for kittiwakes in two decades! In other words there has been plenty of food for these surface feeders! Great news!

Seabird Seafari Although puffins are now leaving, rafts are still being spotted on the sea, an occasional puffin flying overhead, bill filled and an indication that the breeding season is not yet over.

Seals are popping up, delighting passengers but, the sighting of the week…in mirror seas the small pod of porpoise was easily spotted as it broke the surface. There was a cow with calf close by her, their rolling dive in harmony. They must have been fishing as they stayed in the same location for at least ten minutes. Thoughts were that there were maybe six to eight in the pod. Passengers were so excited, in particular young Fin aged 11 and on holiday who had asked prior to leaving if we may spot dolphins or porpoises .….!

A quick radio to the Seafari Island Cruise to alert them and they also enjoyed the spectacle.

Sightings from the Discovery Centre – Kirsty

Isle of May: Shags.

Craigleith: Cormorants, a few puffins. It is more likely that these can be spotted from the boats.

Bass Rock: Gannets and gugas – some gugas have lost most of their fluffy feathers and are a darker colour.

Dunbar harbour: Kittiwakes.

Isle of May: Seals.


Wildlife sightings 27 July 2012

Sightings by Maggie

We had seen puffins during the day, not in huge numbers. Was the season coming to an end?

Our first early evening boat trip proved they had not left. Indeed it was quite spectacular with hundreds gathered on rocks and outside their burrows. The raucous call of the herring gulls flying in to roost filled the air, cormorants and shags with the juveniles settled in for the evening.

At the Bass too it was a spectacle. The noise, the smell – the senses were bombarded! Finally the sun dropped lower in the sky, fingers of orange and reds spreading as we headed back to harbour.
On an earlier trip,  our friendly seal visited, not only close to the boat; he swam around several times peering at all the passengers in hope of a fish. We’ve been seeing more harbour seals this week at both Craigleith and the cave at the Bass.

News from the May that many pufflings are still in burrows not yet ready to fledge. It is thought that the early season floods may have delayed laying, so keep panning around. They are still feeding young.

Visiting the island this week we had just some of the best puffin days witnessed and the good news that the terns are doing quite well although some areas are much quieter now.

The hint of seasonal changes are making an appearance; turnstone in summer plumage, black headed gulls, their chocolate brown caps still showing, sandwich terns fledging, goosander spotted off shore, a diver was seen by a passenger although not identified and the odd skua has been spotted from the boat.