Wildlife sightings 21 February 2014

Sightings from Maggie

Bass: Unfortunately a hoped for visit to the Bass didn’t materialise. The anticipation as you climb the pathway noting the ravishes of the storming winters, the landslides, the desolation, the silence, just waiting for the awaking of the season, an odd rock pipit flitting by. You reach the turn above the camera still nothing, although in the past there has been mutual shock as a peregrine and I eyeballed each other! (An excellent viewpoint there). You continue, just before you reach the rise that then descends to the foghorn, you slow, you listen, scan the airspace and tentatively break the horizon to look down the steep slope that flattens out, at times to be greeted by a mass of white of returning gannets sitting on their nest. It’s such an exciting moment! Although they are not settled and it can just as easily be a day where there’s not a bird in sight, or you spot several hundred sitting on the sea just off the North East side. Keep scanning. They are out there. Guillemots spotted on the cliffs. If you see them it’s quite probable they will be on the other islands.

Craigleith: Four of us did manage a short visit to Craigleith for a pre-mallow clean of the landing, cut any large stems that may encroach on the cormorants and our viewing of them, and whack a little mallow spotted on the west side of the island. Each of us set about our jobs with speed. As I scrubbed merrily (more often on my butt as it was like black ice) I was not alone. I had a curious audience. Seals are attracted by the noise, so I spent a couple of hours scrubbing away and chatting to the seals and trying not to slide into the sea. It was a productive visit. There was time to check the Rene’s study plots (grass seeds have been planted and on each plot, a rabbit cage located to exclude the munching bunnies). David was checking these while James photographed them. Claudia and I checked cameras and the boxes and we all spotted some healthy rabbits, so that’s good news.

The island is looking incredible! Although we know seedlings will push through as spring kicks in for the planned early mallow trips, I suspect there will be little to cut!

Scope Deck: High tide, nine purple sandpipers just over the pink wall with redshanks and turnstones.

The highlight of the week, seen by Helen just out in the East Bay, was a large pod of dolphins just around 08:00 on Tuesday. Gordon from Fisher Lassie also texted me at the same time. They had been heading east. Another text later and they had turned and were heading west. Although everyone was alerted they weren’t seen again, Keep a watch! By all accounts it was a sizeable pod.

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