Sighting Blog – week ended 30 August 2013

From the Discovery Centre Cameras – Andy Dickson

Another week where the Bass Rock continues to be the main focus of activity. There are many gannet with plumage at various stages from white and fluffy chicks to the dark adolescents. Club birds are still around in the lower areas of the Bass and displaying a range of behaviours.

Some adult and juvenile shags are still in the vicinity of the original nest on all the islands but many have fledged and are now independent.

Cormorants are still visible on Craigleth with the lighter chicks identifiable.

Kittiwakes appear to have all fledged from Dunbar although the chicks have now been spotted on the islands.

There are a few fulmar chicks still on Fidra and Craigleith, which are now losing their fluffy down.

Peregrines are now spotted regularly in the afternoon on Fidra and Bass Rock lighthouses.

Seals are still randomly spotted on all islands but nothing regular yet.


From the boat – Maggie Sheddan

Bass We think a couple of gugas were spotted in the distance, at the mercy of the tides and sea conditions. Only when completely free of down do they fledge. A sequence of behaviour is observed. They spend more time wing flapping, turning gazing to the sea, neck extended in a forward leaning posture (anxiety posture) then relaxing, turning to the colony as normal behaviour resumes. This behaviour may be observed several days prior to them actually taking that ‘leap’ from the rock. They have never flown. It is wonderful to watch that first ‘flight’ as it launches itself off the cliff or by the lighthouse (on camera). If the wind is favourable you see a shaky start, but if it gets the lift from the wind you see it soar and slowly the faltering flight becomes stronger. It lands on the sea at times with a mighty splash. This is the world of the guga. It swims away from the colony too fat to take flight. (The parents have fed it well, that extra layer of fat vital for survival as it learns how to fish for itself). Soon from the boat, it will be like a slalom as we negotiate many flightless fledglings on the seas.

Elsewhere, seals have been quite visible hauled out on the low rocks and at the Bass caves. Fulmars are gliding along cliff tops, cormorants and shags are still being seen and, during the misty days, kittiwakes were numerous at their sites.

A wheatear was spotted on the rocks just below decking.


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