Wildlife sightings from 23 November 2012

From the Discovery Centre

Fidra: Peregrine been seen sporadically, possibly hunting. Curlew sat on cliff top for an hour or so.
Bass Rock: Not a gannet to be seen; last sighting was on 16 November (nothing recorded after that).
Isle of May: Young seals all fattened up and leaving daily. Fewer cows and not many sightings in the water either. There are still around 20-25 young pups around. A couple of sightings of a bull up on the bay patrolling!
Craigleith: Still a few young pups, possibly a few cows still to give birth. Bull sitting lording it up on the island all week. Numbers are similar to that on the May.

Main excitement is on East Beach with the resident flock of turnstone and oystercatcher on show daily. Flock of purple sandpiper seen throughout the week, mixing with turnstone as are the redshanks.

From Maggie Sheddan

Bass Rock: Spartacus and Brutus have left the Rock! Their journey has begun. Unfortunately we don’t have the exact date of their departure but there has been no sign of either of them since Tuesday, perhaps even earlier in the week?

Their journey to the cliff edge will have been without the trauma of attack as the earlier fledged gugas endure when they have to run the gauntlet through occupied territories. From there, alone, they will have made that faltering first flight, hopefully to the safety of the sea.

Unpredictable weather and tides have prevented a visit this week but we’re hopeful for next week? A sweep of the Rock will be made, just in case they have become trapped and to check there are no others in need of care. Although conditions are not ideal for survival, in the past we have seen a few gugas spend the winter in the area. Come April/May there is always a double take on these birds when you spot them flying past and you quickly realise it is not an early fledged guga merely, one that has survived the winter here.

Maximus – it is 4 years this week since he was alone on the Rock but still being cared for. Below an extract from the 2008 Bulletin:

The lone chick has been named and is capturing the attention and hearts of visitors. Alone on the Rock with only an occasional herring gull for company, it braves whatever the weather throws at it while it waits, and waits, for that next feed. Records are showing that a pattern is beginning to develop in the feeding regime. A parent is returning mid morning to feed, and returns again around the 15:00 mark, when, on occasion, both adults have been seen.

What is of concern is this weekend’s weather report. Strong northerly winds bringing snow down the North Sea, and coast could present a problem. We know last year the lone chick on the north of the Rock survived into early December but appeared to have been abandoned. A very icy windy snap had preceded this. We have the advantage this year. The Discovery Centre staff are doing a brilliant job of keeping an eye on Maximus! But they need help please. 

He was abandoned that weekend and the rest is history. Just this morning an email from Canada was forwarded to me. The BBC Coast Programme, with the Centre and the Bass Rock had been shown last night. From there they went on to the website and saw the story of Maximus. It does show how the Centre and the Bass Rock reach an international audience.

Isle of May/Craigleith: Looking on the webcam you can see the breeding areas becoming less crowded. No updates from the Discovery Centre but looking back at this week in 2008 there were 82/26 pups at each colony. How many are there this week on the islands?

Seal pup rescue not reported in last week’s Bulletin. The first call came in about a pup on the East Beach. It was a text book rescue thanks to the very clear and precise information we received.

Immediately we were told it was a white coat (so important, that way we know we must have a look at it) No it wasn’t injured, just sleeping tucked in a dune. Location was very well explained and with further questioning as to where was the Bass Rock if looking out to sea, what was in front/behind them we found that week old pup easily. It had obviously been there some time as the high tide had washed away the trail it leaves when it hauls itself up the beach. Sound asleep among the grasses it wasn’t at all phased as we lifted it carefully in to the SSPCA seal sack. It was a joint rescue with the BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue with James, Hannah and myself) and the SSPCA. The pup is being well cared for now but would have died had it not been found. This is why location is so important. Advice was given a few weeks ago and good to pass on to our visitors.

Locally: A long-tailed duck was seen flying past Dunbar Harbour. Look out for purple sandpiper on the rocks at low tide. Waxwing from West Barns to Barnton. They are being seen on the berry bushes/trees.

Thanks to all at Lothian Bird News.


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