Wildlife sightings – w/3 Friday 15 November – Maggie Sheddan

Craigleith It was a beautiful sunrise as we sailed the short distance to Craigleith, slight south westerly wind but not the strong gales we had seen earlier in the week. This was the first of the seal counts for the season. Although the cameras give excellent views we know from experience there are blind spots. The light can also be an issue especially as they start to moult. It can be difficult to determine the age of a moulting pup/weaner. All this info is fed back to the Fife Seal group and subsequently SMRU. As we approached the island we spotted two pups on the west of the island fairly, low down as the mallow is quite dense there but great to see them. Last year there was no sign of breeding there as in previous years, so good to see the cows return there. It was always something to watch for on our last sailings of the season. White water crashed on the low rocks and our spirits fell, we knew landing was not an option. Back to the Centre and a detailed pan around with the camera. At that point we think the count is around 30-32 pups but by now perhaps there are more?
This weekend the 2nd seal count takes place on the islands of the upper Forth
Chatting with Dave (SNH) news from the May, despite a slow start to the season it’s all looking fairly good. Seals appear to be more spread out on the island than previous years (Pilgrims looks fairly normal although we know it’s probably hit peak breeding now) but interestingly SMRU have commented that cows returned in very good condition this year (in other words, fat!) and despite feeding their weight has remained good. Therefore, an indication that food has been plentiful. With all the Cetacean sightings this year, that too affirms it has been a good year once the season settled down.
With Fran giving us the wonderful updates from the May and Mary listing the shore birds and ducks from the viewing deck, I’ll take a wee break unless I have something of interest to update you all on.

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