Wildlife sightings 17 August 2012

Sightings – Maggie
Bass The ‘guga ‘season is upon us… Several are down-free, just building up the courage to make the arduous walk to the cliff edge. From there many factors determine their survival. The walk to the cliff edge can be fraught, attack after attack as they negotiate territories. On reaching a cliff edge, they may have no time for the pre-curser neck stretching, wing flapping, nor time to draw back, to try again later. For some the ‘jump’ or first faltering flight may be instant if pushed. That leap into the unknown, will the wind aid their faltering flight, or will they plummet onto a promontory perhaps sustaining injury? Will the seas be calm? For several days they are at the mercy of the seas, a good layer of fat to sustain them, as they master the art of fishing. Their journey has begun.

The young chick on the corner of chapel wall is now visible as are the young below that corner. This should give good viewing over the next couple of months.

On Tuesday our VisitScotland passengers were delighted when we spotted not just one puffling in the water but five and one adult not far from Craigleith. A similar update from the May this week where puffins have still been seen carrying in fish and pufflings found around the island, one in the moth trap box having been attracted to the light.

Rafts of guillemots with young are quite evident and should be easily spotted from the viewing deck.
Eiders that have been missing for several weeks now should soon be reappearing after their moult.

Fulmars – the news from the ringers was not good with only four fulmar chicks being ringed on the island, a dramatic drop from previous years. Having seen over twenty pairs on the Bass early season I think only two have fledged chicks. The story is very similar on the May. Keep you updated on this.

Fulmars have been part of the ‘Save the North Sea’ study for many years. Autopsies undertaken have been showing problems with plastic they ingest but, worryingly, more and more were showing that starvation contributed to their demise.


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