Wildlife sightings 22 February 2013

Sightings from Maggie

Bass: They’re teasing! In flight and sitting on the sea. Are they there early morning? We just have to be patient. Apart from the North side, it shouldn’t be long until you spot the odd gannet or two on the cliffs. Slowly the cliffs start to turn white, then the outer fringes of the Rock. By July, there will be little space and we shall see the mature non-breeders take to any available site, but that is a long way off.

Fidra: To see the peregrine pair on the ledge is wonderful but to see them mating live on camera is superb! Keep a watch. How often do they return to the ledge? Sightings will become fewer giving an indication that they have taken to a site somewhere along the coastal area. Sometimes it’s what we don’t see that tells the story and we will know that somewhere the both sexes will be incubating the eggs although the male plays a minor role.

Isle of May: The calm seas reflected the deep red of Sunday’s sunrise. The eiders oo-OOOOh echoed around the EastBay. A spring feeling filled the air as cameras were turned on and revealed the stacks crowded with hundreds of guillemots. In the background it was hard to miss the flight activity over the seas with all the purposeful too-ing and fro-ing. On Monday another beautiful day unfolded but this time, having scraped ice off the boat, we were heading out from Anstruther early morning on yet another seal rescue. A few days prior, we had tried to find the one with the netting caught around its neck. Slowly we had sailed past Rhona, shag rock, Whaups rock with over a thousand eyes watching as heads lifted in interest. Over 500 seals were hauled out on the treacherous rocky outcrops. At this time they may be moulting. We don’t see this side but come September, when the seals start to return for breeding, Seafari will run special seal trips past this area prior to landing. I’m pleased to say that, although we didn’t spot the one with the netting, we did free another that was trapped.

Neil spotted a dead shag with a red Darvick ring (important) and recorded nature’s food chain as a great black back gull took advantage of an easy meal on the boulder beach of Pilgrims Haven. As we were on the island, we hoped we could retrieve the ring. However, the shag had vanished. Thankfully, Neil did not record me falling over on said boulder beach although I believe several staff witnessed that, and me having the giggles. Prior to this, James further down the beach, had just indicated for me to be quiet as there was a seal further down this beach…. oops!

PIB or Polyisobutene, and don’t we all know what this is? This is the substance identified by scientists from the University of Plymouth from samples taken from seabirds washed ashore in the recent ‘mystery oil’ seabird wreck of the southwestern coast of Britain which also accords with analysis done separately by the Environment Agency. PIB Is believed to be responsible for over 4,000 seabird deaths in the last 10 years. PIB is currently given one of the lowest hazard classifications under MARPOL (marine pollution from shipping) therefore justifying less stringent restrictions on the quality and quantity of discharge into the marine environment. This substance is used in making chewing gum, sticky tape and in cosmetics. We come into contact with it daily, but when mixed with seawater it becomes lethal for seabirds. The following is an extract from an RSPB report featured in BirdsGuides Newsletter 14th February 2013.

“The RSPB is seeking public support to call on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to review the hazard classification of PIB urgently, and to implement regulations that prevent any further tragic and wholly avoidable incidents like the one just witnessed.”



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