Wildlife sightings 14 December 2012

Sightings from Maggie

Isle of May: It’s looking very positive that visitors over the Christmas holidays will have the joy of pup spotting on Pilgrims Haven. Several will be moulted, others on the cusp of being left to fend for themselves. There was a newborn last weekend and hopes that there may be other late breeders will add to the excitement and anticipation.

We should now be seeing the odd fulmar gliding along the clifftops, perhaps even sitting at a nest site? Fulmars had a dreadful breeding season on the May this past season and figures for the other Forth islands were not much better.

Dare I say it? Perhaps just a little early, but as soon as the cameras are switched on have a quick scan on the Angel and Pilgrims stacks. Any guillemots? They quickly disperse, but it’s not unusual to see them first thing! Please do note dates that any are seen.

Craigleith: Much quieter now but on calm sea days, moulted pups will often haul out on the low rocks and sleep! A flock of over 30 finches (possibly linnet) were spotted flitting over the island. Any sign on the graylag?

The harsh frost is sitting on the island today. Perfect for killing off the tiny mallow seedlings! With cuts undertaken in Sept and October it cleared ground allowing small seeds to flourish. This kind of weather is such a bonus. It takes out that layer and when milder weather returns and growth resumes the spring cut should hopefully be sufficient to see it through the breeding season.

Fidra: Fairly quiet. Keep a watch for the peregrine and for any wildfowl that may graze on the island or be feeding in sheltered waters.

Viewing Deck: On these still frosty mornings conditions are perfect for spending a little time on the viewing deck. Scan the rocks for purple sandpiper, turnstone, redshank, oystercatcher, heron, occasionally knot, ringed plover, dunlin and sanderling are seen, and scan the bay for seaducks, eider, long-tailed duck, red-breasted merganser, scoter, along with the familiar shag, cormorant and auk . You never know what may be passing through!

Spare a thought for the small passerines that frequent parks and gardens. Even just a small amount of fats and seeds scattered can make the difference of survival for them.

Keith Brockie and Derek Robertson
Being in a fortunate position, I’ve bumped into Keith and Derek over these last couple of years as they have sketched and painted on the May. It is such a pleasure to see their books in the Centre.

Keith gave us a wonderful presentation a couple of weeks ago as part of the Reading Hour, for Book Week Scotland. His images were breathtaking in detail, all captured along with notes and information of his experience as he watched the particular subject.

Derek too, his puffin images are stunning and delicate, again with background notes. Although we don’t have otters on the May I found myself purchasing this for a gift.

I do know as I turned the pages, the beauty of these images me left me with a yearning for the first sign of spring and the first May visits.

Owls: Tawny, barn owl. Do you ever hear a tawny owl calling or spot the majestic barn owl hunting at night? This was part of the discussion at the SOC discussion group last night. I know at certain times of year I hear a tawny owl calling from the Lodge grounds and another in the distance. Although there are substantial records, updated information is always welcomed. To save an army of strange people skulking in woods or fields at night, if you do hear a tawny calling or know of a barn owl in your locality, please do let me know and I will pass this info onto the SOC. Thank you.

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