Wildlife sightings 19 October 2012

Sightings from Maggie

Isle of May: Trauma, tenderness and the sheer ‘awe’ factor, all unfolding on Pilgrims’ Haven. The trauma! A rather urgent call came through from the Discovery Centre. Could I come and check an unfolding drama off shore from Pilgrims’ Haven. The concerned crowd gathered around the May camera.

‘A seal is entangled in ropes.’

Close to shore a buoy marking the spot, thrashing, splashing and surrounding it. A quick sighting as the cow’s head emerged. That was good, at least she could breathe. Although seals can dive comfortably for 10-15 minutes (they can dive for much longer) this was a traumatic situation. It appeared her rear flippers were entangled at the float, but with her head emerging again, a good view of the rope around her neck. Seals gathered around her. They are large mammals with very sharp teeth and claws, but could she free herself? Would they help? Could I do anything?

Not really, but I would make a call in hope a boatman may be close by and perhaps able to cut her free. I returned to check as the hope was she could free herself. The float bobbed on the sea, a long trail of rope floating on the surface. No sign of the seal. It appeared she had managed to free herself. Jeremy, still on the May, checked for a while after that. All appeared fine.

With over 60 pups on the beach now, and high tides, it is at times rather crowded. The odd hiss as a cow ventures too close to another’s pup. Skirmishes off shore as bulls vie for the domain, or cows see off the male not yet ready to mate, pups snoozing, exploring or feeding with the odd mother allowing two pups to feed from her.

Look out for the rock pipits feeding on flies. We had a lovely image of a sleeping pup with the pipits perched on the boulders just inches from them.

Bass Rock: From the Seafari boat approaching the Rock it is virtually empty, but there are small pockets of gannets to be seen. We scan around the cliff tops as the profile of the guga stands out against the skyline. It’s surprising how many we have been seeing. The young chick on the stack by the cave is doing well but the gugas that flanked it have gone and only four adults perched there now. On camera, wonderful shots of the chicks still being attended to by the adults. How long before they fledge? Will the parents stay for the duration?

Craigleith: Cows are now being seen daily. When will that first pup be born? As we approach the island the bull appears in an instant, watching us, making sure we are no threat to his domain. We see the same at the Bass.

Dolphins: No more sightings this week, but always worth spending a little time on the viewing deck.

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