Wildlife sightings 21 September 2012

Sightings from Maggie

Bass Rock: Overcast and obvious overnight rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of what may be the final photographic trip of the season. Swell earlier in the week had prevented landing but most of the group had been able to rearrange and the smiles at the end of the day said it all.

There is something special about that last day. For many of the gannets, breeding is over but site attendance is still paramount as disputes and squabbles are commonplace. Nest building, displaying, it was all happening and what was wonderful was that many of the young chicks I saw a month ago, are doing well. The three most obvious on camera are near the chapel. Scanning around, a couple of six to seven week-old ones were spotted.

I freed many gugas from the lighthouse area. One that was spotted, its leg entangled in netting, was caught. The wound was rather nasty – the netting almost severed the leg by the web. With Dawn’s help, I cut away the final strands. As I went to take its neck I carelessly got my hand in the wrong place and, yes, I now sport a rather nasty cut and a very swollen finger. The bird headed straight for the open gate and, with no chance to give additional care, it was gone.

When will the immature club birds leave? They have been very twitchy as we have sailed past recently, so please do note the date they leave.

Dolphins were spotted as we were sailing towards the Bass, a huge treat for all!

Isle of May: Seal breeding has begun! The first pup has been born on the May on the 18 September, three days earlier than last year! Keep an eye on Pilgrims Haven and surrounding seas. It’s usually slightly later here. For photos of the pup and some of the entertainment seen around the May from seals, check out the Isle of May blog, it’s worth reading.

Seal Day on the May this weekend is full, but the final sailings for the season are next weekend. If you want to see pregnant seals hauled out, in the water, the odd bull in attendance of his harem, next week is the last chance to sail to the May. Sailings have been timed for lower tides to give maximum opportunity to enjoy this wonderful time.

Craigleith: Only an occasional cormorant being seen now but a peregrine has been spotted by the mashers. They have done a wonderful job of clearing the glen for the seal season. Again, keep noting numbers of hauled out seals and note the date.

Thanks to all at Lothian Bird News for the following: Over 9,000 pinkfoot roosting at Aberlady. Buff breasted sandpiper at Tynninghame, also a juvenile gannet was seen flying near Bathgate. I had a call reporting (unconfirmed) over 30 in a field close to the mudflats near Grangemouth. Certainly many are seen from the Maid of the Forth as they sail under the bridges to Inchcolme. We saw many flying around as we brought the RiB back from South Queensferry earlier in the week.

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