Wildlife sightings 17 April 2014

Sightings from Maggie

Sailing around the SW corner of Craigleith, puffins parading outside burrows, whirring overhead, socializing, large gatherings on the rocks, just hanging out, a sight that still brings excitement and joy as we think back to 2006, when not a rock was visible and barely a puffin to be seen. We’ve seen them mating on the water, and rafting in large numbers. We’ve had inquisitive seals watching us, some in the seas others hauled out. Eiders are gathering and there is that real feel of the season beginning to settle down.

The fun of the boats, no two days are ever the same, even an hour can make all the difference. In a week where we had ‘sporty’ weather (translated = wet, soaked, and windy!) to beautiful calm days, there is always something exciting happening.

Highlights this week, when approaching the east side of the Bass cave, we heard the guillemots. The stacks, the ledges were crammed! I haven’t seen this for a very long time. The next day, they had vanished. Let’s hope this is an indication of the possible breeders this year. Wednesday a similar occurrence. Guillemots are also taking their spaces in between the gannets. The gannets tolerate them but I did spot one that was completely surrounded. It didn’t look too happy and I suspect when the partner returned the guillemots will be pushed out.

In 24 hours we saw the gannetry had grown, more had appeared and the area below the battlement was slowly extending. As many of these birds are potentially first time breeders and not settled, they are flighty and we had that first lift off from that zone. The breeders sit tight. By the next trip the first bird had appeared on the low promontory, quickly taking to the air as the boat appeared. For those that are settled… Now is the time to really scan the bellies as they sit.. It’s Easter! It’s egg time! Who’s going to find that first gannet egg? It’s out there I’m sure!

On several trips we have had fleeting glimpse of two porpoises as we headed toward the Bass. What differences will we see next week?

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

Puffins could be seen all over Fidra, Isle of May and Craigleith inspecting burrows and billing with their partners. However, the windy conditions today made them disappear again…

Yesterday we had a very good afternoon. Our peregrine falcon has been spotted by visitors on the Bass Rock lighthouse munching away happily for hours on a pigeon. He stayed on the lighthouse the whole afternoon! The gannet colony is getting bigger each day and the youngsters have been spotted on the helipad. We’ve seen a second ringed bird but no eggs yet – we keep looking for them.

The shag nests are increasing too. A new nest has been built by Green AXA right next to the nest of Blue ZCA. After a few issues at the start, they are doing fine, coping with the very close neighbours. Still we could not see a new egg on Blue ZCA’s nest.

The cormorants on Craigleith have started to lay their eggs so the big wait for hatchlings has started.

The castle wall on Dunbar Harbour has many kittiwakes but we can’t see any eggs yet.

On Fidra we’ve seen herring gulls trying to rip open a puffin burrow. Luckily they were unsuccessful. We can see the graylag geese quite often and we suspect they have a nest on Fidra.

Our pregnant prawn has now given up her eggs and we could release her back into the big tank. The eggs are now in the net at the back of the tank. We are very interested how many baby prawns we will get in the end.

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