Wildlife sightings 28 September 2012

Sightings from Maggie

Bass Rock: It was expected! The boats were tucked up safely in the harbour on Sunday evening. On Monday morning due to the strengthening easterly winds, the boom went down. The harbour now closed. I knew it wouldn’t be long before calls came in about exhausted gugas along the shores and indeed the first call came in before 09:00 the morning of the storm.

With the likelihood that many more would be reported, the SSPCA would be overwhelmed. We have been very much aware of the void in short-term care for these young birds and that is being debated. With predominate westerlys since fledging began, the normal influx has not been seen although a few birds have gone into the care of the SSPCA.

A call mid morning from Pat Macaulay/Marr was very much welcomed. She has access to the pen for a few days and a beach patrol was undertaken. So that familiar, and very welcomed aroma, and sound now resonates from the beach road pen. If you have any mackerel lurking in your freezer, all donations gratefully received.

The club birds sitting by the landing site had been twitchy last week and, sure enough, by the weekend they had gone. A few returned, but the lower rock is now silent and empty, a sure sign the season is slowly coming to a close.

Keep an eye on the young birds close to the chapel and pan around, you may just spot an odd down-covered one. Note where it is so we can observe its progress. Numbers may be thinning but the season is far from over. There is plenty of activity and behaviour to enjoy.

Bass seals: So much depends on the tides and the weather. A mix of harbour and pregnant greys are being seen. So far no sign of ‘the bull’. Sadly the beautiful enormous bull that dominated the colony, we think died from an injury last year. The scientific name derived from the Greek, Halichoerus gyrpus, meaning ‘sea-pig with a hooked nose’ portrays the bull exactly. His enormous head, long Roman nose, thick battled scarred neck – a daunting specimen not to be messed with!

We wait and watch, as perhaps more than one male will appear? On certain tidal days we take the short hop down to St Baldred’s where, from a distance, we often spot many seals hauled out.

The May and Seal Day: A wonderful day as ever. Inquisitive pregnant cow’s heads extending and twisting as they watched with curiosity as we drifted slowly by. The haunting wailing filling the air from the dozens hauled out lazing in the warmth of the late September sun. A sudden splash from a bull letting his presence known. We were no threat to him.

On landing, Dave and Jeremy made the day very special. Scopes were set up allowing our small group the joy of watching the second pup that had been born the previous day. Tea was served at Fluke Street (in the posh cups!) with many displays and information. There was no mistaking the bull skull!

From butterflies, moths, invertebrates, plants and a black bunny all were seen and discussed. The visit passed as ever too quickly. Unfortunately the weather is turning this weekend and we are unable to make our last visit of the season. We watch Pilgrim’s Haven on camera now, waiting for that first pup; the joys, the traumas and the amusing moments that will enthral us for the next few months.

Craigleith: Many cows have been spotted hauled out (prior to this week’s storm). Only two weeks until the first pup may be born.

Local sightings: That wonderful autumnal ‘wink wink’ as skeins of pinkfoot fly overhead. John Harrison from Aberlady Bay reports just shy of 23,000 roosting. Sea-watching up and down the coast reports skuas, shearwaters, sabine gull and a leaches petrel to mention just a few!

Thanks to all at Lothian Bird News.

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