Wildlife sightings 1 November 2012

Sightings from Maggie

Bass Rock:  Brutus, Spartacus, Luscious…if I mention Maximus I think we will all understand, this is not a theatrical review. Yes, this is the Bass Rock sightings. (May I add, I did not name the chicks!) ….. Paul?!

The wintry blizzards due last weekend did not materialise. The Discovery Centre team has monitored daily the return of the adults to feed the two lone chicks.The 3rd and youngest, Brutus, has had constant attendance from an adult. Concern was raised on Wednesday when it appeared two of them had not been fed. One is near to fledging, still with a little down, but the other has at least two/ three weeks until fledging. By Thursday morning it was thought that they had been abandoned. With cameras panning frequently to the preset, an adult was spotted returning to feed one of them. Good news!

Several years ago when we rescued Maximus, many were amazed that there were still young on the Rock. These late breeders are a regular occurrence and have been for several years. It is probable that it may be a replacement egg if one was lost earlier in the season. Only because of the cameras do we now witness this. They are ‘home alone’ birds with little stimulation around them, therefore their behaviour reflects this. Please do keep watching and watch their behaviour.

The peregrine has been a regular on the Rock this week. It has various lookout points but one of the favourites, and also a feeding station, is the lighthouse. It’s worth keeping an eye out for any activity there.

Craigleith: On 1 November there were 22 visible pups and they are not confined to the main body of the glen. Several cows have hauled quite high up the slopes safely away from high tides and crashing surf. We know a few may breed on the west of the island out of site of the camera and only when we land for the counts will we know if they have returned. Numbers are on par with previous years, excluding last year. Last year there were none on the west side. Possibly the weather impacted on them gaining access to the island? (We had many days of severe crashing seas).

I watched one the other day at first sniffing the chickweed, the head burrowed a little further, until its entire body was entangled and almost hidden. It was playing.

Again, try to keep count and note any stillborn as these add to the counts and are important for building that picture of mortality during breeding season.

Isle of May: Wall to wall pups, cows and offshore bulls. It is difficult to count not least because you’re drawn into the action of the moment, whether it’s a pup being splashed for the first time by an incoming wave, or one convinced a log may be a food source. We know from previous years we would expect to have over a hundred pups by now. See how many you can count.

The cameras are being used by a researcher from Glasgow University to monitor overnight mortality with a short recording of the shoreline every morning. Hopefully the SMRU will have a blog soon that will update on this year’s research. I’m still dying to find out about the sound recordings they took last year of the haunting wail. Did this produce any findings or conclusions?

Seal advice as previous years:
Over the next few weeks, particularly when heavy winds prevail, we will have the odd report of ‘pups’ on the beaches.
It is time now to start reminding visitors, should they find a ‘pup ‘on the beach,
• Observe from a distance, does it have an obvious injury? Is the coat white?
• Keep children and dogs clear
• Only if the pup looks injured or is in distress, report it to the SSPCA or bring it to our attention if within sight of the Centre and we will check it out. The BDMLR (Marine Medics) will attend
• Location – a landmark or precise location aids the responders
• More often than not, the young seal is resting and will head out on the next tide
• A seal bite can be extremely serious as they carry several nasty diseases
We do now have a seal cage for those trained to remove a pup from the beach to hold or transport to the rescue centre.


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