Wildlife sightings 7 December 2012

Sightings from Maggie

Isle of May: The season is winding down but still plenty to captivate viewers watching the activities on Pilgrims Haven. Our attention was drawn to a scavenging gull with thoughts it was feeding on afterbirth. Scanning around there was no sign of a newborn. On closer inspection we realized it was picking at a carcass. I rather like Dave’s description of them; ‘the environmental cleaners’.

Around the island many moulted pups (now having to fend for themselves) are being seen lolling in shallow rock pools or ditches. An update on the May blog http://isleofmaynnr.blogspot.co.uk shows one enjoying a puddle in a ditch, in the background the lighthouse is visible. They really do move around the entire island. The challenge at times is to find the sea! Although they have a good starter layer of blubber, they eventually have got to brave the sea and learn how to fish and care for themselves.

Craigleith: A similar update for Craigleith. I watched this frantic head thrashing from one little fattie. From the undergrowth, a piece of plastic flew into the air, followed quickly by the pup. We watched as the mouth opened (look at those teeth!) and he gently gripped the plastic, head again frantically moving from side to side. The plastic flew out his mouth into dense scrub. Frantic burrowing, almost puffin-like as it looked as if he was burrowing. After a few moments his head emerged triumphantly, plastic gripped in his mouth and the head thrashing began again. Although it looks comical, this is all probably part of the natural instinct and training for catching prey. We see similar behaviour in young gannets.

Fidra: The Peregrine has been seen frequently. Keep a watch for the displaying male as he proves to the female what a good provider he is.

Bass Rock: On a perfect winter’s morning 4 years ago, our tactics already planned, we landed on the Bass and Maximus became probably the most photographed guga ever. I’m sure he survived! He certainly had the best opportunities and the finest of diets. With the weather so against us this year we have been unable to land to check around the island.

Inchkeith: Our second seal count was undertaken last weekend by the Fife Seal Group. It looks to be a record season there for pups with 396 now in total and still the breeding season is ongoing. Although this sounds very positive it has been relatively calm weather with possibly less being washed away in stormy seas. I know, rescue-wise, we have had a very quiet time this year. It is still early days and we sit with the seal bag and cage at the ready!

It was reported that a juv sea eagle has been spotted recently. A call from Bill Bruce alerted me that it had been spotted at the east end of the island and was heading my way. I had been watching a pair of peregrines displaying on the north west of the island. There was also a pair of buzzards around. I was scanning, but it was the buzzards that alerted me. And this is where it all went wrong.

In shot, two peregrines, two buzzards and the sea eagle …….. and my camera froze! Can you imagine five raptors in one frame! The dilemma, fight with the camera or enjoy the moment …. I enjoyed the moment. It was frustrating. The others did get a shot and good views. The satellite transmitter was easily seen, but no tag was spotted as I watched it power away, heading toward the Forth Bridges.

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