Wildlife sightings 2 February 2013

Sightings from Maggie

The Bass Rock: The first gannets have been seen near the Bass and off shore from Dunbar (thank you Douglas from the Aspire II fishing boat).

At this time of year it’s not unusual to find several hundred gannets land near the north side of the Rock down by the foghorn, unfortunately out of sight. They are not yet settled. Pan the camera to the NE cliffs and also scan the sea. If they’re not flying around, often they may just be sitting on the water.

Keep an eye out for the peregrine. It has several vantage points; one being on the right of the upper path, the other is the cliff face and the favourite feeding station, the lighthouse.

Fidra: Most days the peregrine is being spotted and on occasion, 2 have been seen. Are they a pair? The male often presents food to the female showing his prowess as a provider for when the chicks are hatched. Still early days but sites will be being looked at.

Isle of May: Look out for young seals hauled out on Pilgrims’ Haven, oblivious to the boulders or debris they rest upon. An amusing tale this week of a young seal pup found in a busy lorry park in Stranraer. In fear that it would be injured the young seal was lifted to the boot of a car to await the arrival of the SSPCA. It would appear it wasn’t too enamoured with the confines of the boot and somehow broke through to the car only to be found draped over the dashboard!

Wonderful shots on the BBC website but look carefully at the pup. Although it has moulted you can see folds of skin on the belly and the face is quite drawn and thin. It needs a bit of feeding and care which it will receive from staff at the fabulous premises of the SSPCA, near Alloa.

A small group of us from the BDMLR (marine medics) had a wonderful ‘learning’ visit there last week: Cup Cake, Doughnut and Muffin were just 3 of the rescued young seals we saw and heard in the excellent des res facilities (it was like being in a room of wailing babies). Smartie, the aforementioned pup, had not been brought in at that time, they have capacity for up to 80 seals.

The Rocky Shore count: This takes place this Sunday. Surveyors will walk the shores from Edinburgh to Berwick upon Tweed counting all waders and seaducks. The survey contributes to WeBs (the Wetland Bird survey for non-breeding waterbirds).

As with RSPB garden birdwatch, this can highlight changes among the wintering populations. Certainly over recent years we have seen quite a dramatic drop in some of the common waders close to the Centre. I usually undertake the section from the harbour to Canty Bay, always enjoying a good half hour sea-watching (for gannets) but this year it clashes with my annual sojourn with the RAF team for our Winter Duck survey, also contributing to the WeBs reports. This is not for the faint hearted. From dawn to dusk we survey in all weather. If stuck in a white out, we wait and continue.

Evenings are spent writing up reports and preparing for the following 06:00 start. We have to be at our first survey point for the dawn roosts – flasks and sandwiches prepared. And folks think I’m off on holiday ….… if only!

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