Sightings from Maggie
Craigleith: The first pup born on Craigleith went unnoticed for some while. We think it was born late Sunday or early on Monday 22 October. It was contented, obviously fed as that scrawny face had already filled out, the white coat smooth and dry and importantly no sign of gulls. The cow had hauled higher into the glen. In the past there have been a few at the top of the hill. Look out for trails in the vegetation – scan around! There is wildlife all over the island!
Panning around on Tuesday morning a very tranquil cow – deep in sleep, head resting on a pillow of stone, with that ‘smiley’ look that seals have, the occasional sigh and scratch of contentment – was stretched out in the centre of the glen. Heavily pregnant, was it the calm before the birth? She was closely monitored that morning. As happens, during lunch break, unseen, the pup was born. Superb footage, recorded a few years ago, shows the birth to be very quick.
Back with the newborn, the mother had moved away from the danger of the gulls, which vie for the afterbirth. The pup is very vulnerable at this moment. The mother was sniffing tenderly and then presented herself to the straggly bundle for its first feed. She appeared to be an experienced mother. Returning later, it was lovely to them settled. With six pups now born, breeding is well underway showing a very similar pattern to last year. Try to keep a count and note stillborn pups too, as it all adds to the total breeding numbers.
The little pirates on the Seafari pirate boat sang to the seals last week as we hunted for Black Pearl’s treasure, the seals very much our ‘helpers of the seas’. Bulls and cows watched with interest as we drifted slowly opening the treasure chest we had hauled on aboard. Such fun!
Isle of May: With over 80 pups and cows on Pilgrims Haven the beach is quite crowded. As you scan around, your eyes just catch an incident which might be amusing, aggressive or traumatic. Just watching them sleep at times is spellbinding. Are they alive? (something we are often asked). Look for the rise of the chest. They can be so peaceful at times and then you get a twitch and a flipper waves or scratches and our visitors are reassured. The first pup born on Pilgrims should have moulted, perhaps already gone.
Bass Rock: Are we going to have another Maximus? There are three young chicks still being tended. One chick appears to have one parent in attendance and the others are left although the parents do return and feed the chicks regularly. Please do keep a watch and note feeding times.
They generally have a pattern and return at certain times. Ask visitors to watch. With the blizzards forecast out at sea this coming weekend, we do wonder if they may be abandoned. A visit is due to the Rock, perhaps next week, and although we don’t want to intervene, if the chick is abandoned we may have to. HMS Gannet is not a rescue option!
Fidra: The peregrine is being seen from the lighthouse to the viewpoint. Scan the seas around the island. Heading up in the boat yesterday a raft of about 20+ common scoter was close to Fidra.
Local sightings: Keep up-to-date with local sightings with Lothian Bird News.
The first waxwing has been seen… and so much more!