Wildlife sightings 8 March 2013

Sightings by Maggie

Bass Rock: A sea of white now extends over the rock, not yet dense, but there is no mistaking the gannets are returning to their sites. Many sit alone, perhaps waiting for their partner to return? Others already paired are performing gentle, mutual preening, intense bill fencing, they have been apart for several months, hence all the displaying of pair bonding. For the lone gannet the territorial displays are obvious. The deep bowing, wings held high, the call, all re-affirming to neighbours, ownership of their site. If you can’t make it in to the Centre, check out the web cams. I did and spotted some nest building/scavenging. At this time they wander about eyeing up anything that may be useful for the nest, the odd air jab as one passes close to another’s nest. Territorial disputes can become quite heated and intense. I watched a pair last year, bills locked together, breaking apart, jabbing, etc. the fight continued for over half an hour. The really amusing part, they were the only 2 gannets in that area, the rock was empty! The mentality of gannets!

The Peregrine has been spotted on the lighthouse. Guillemots, razorbills and shags all visible. Keep a watch for harbour (common) seals. We start to see them return around this time.

Fidra: Shags mating, razorbills and guillemots staying longer on the cliffs, fulmars at sites, the 2013 breeding season is on the cusp. This is the time to really watch and learn about the displaying and bonding behaviour between the pairs.

Isle of May: Wonderful shots of the returning shags. Nests are being rebuilt although there are not any flowers around to decorate as we have seen in the past with one of the pairs. Guillemot and razorbills on the stacks coming and going, fulmars a delight to watch, gliding along the cliff edges, and the first puffin was spotted (still winter plumage) off shore from the May.

Seals and fishing line: A couple of weeks ago a seal with netting/line around its neck was spotted on Pilgrims’ Haven. It didn’t appear too stressed at that time, but you could see the line around its neck. It hauled out for a couple of days and true to form by the time we reached the island it had gone. I checked daily when I was on the May and of course, after I had left, it re-appeared. This time it was in distress and the injury from the fishing line very obvious. We called Dave the Reserve Manager who fortunately was on the island. Dave to the rescue! Despite a wriggly fighting seal he managed to cut the line. Dave is very aware of the seriousness of a seal bite and certainly this is something that should not be attempted without proper training and equipment. The seal shot off into the sea. We see a lot of these types of scars on seals so it’s hoped he will heal in time. There is a report on BBC news online relating to this story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-21698848

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