Wildlife sightings 1 May 2014

Sightings by Maggie

We sail into this mysterious world enveloped in a white mist, the swell becomes evident as we reach the fairway, just adding to the mystery of this trip ahead. The rasping call of a sandwich tern is heard, and then a splash as it obviously plunged dived to catch something? They are returning.

Craigleith, Fidra & the Bass: are lost in the fog. I love foggy days although it is a challenge. A sea of faces watch me as I point vaguely toward an invisible world recounting RLS and the inspiration for Treasure Island and that now we are heading toward Craigleith, an island of puffins and seals. As we approach the island an occasional puffin is spotted. Suddenly, the cliffs loom in front of us, ledges packed tightly with guillemots, their distinctive ‘aaahhrrr’ echoing around. It is such a summer sound! A few are starting to face inward – an indication they are settling or may even have an egg. The cormorants on the top of the cliff were just visible, puffins puffed up outside burrows, rabbits bring as much excitement to people as puffins, and the tale of the mallow and the mysterious reappearance of these munching machines always brings a smile. Even seals were hanging out draped over rocks.

As we disappear into the swirling fog, the senses are heightened, the focus of any bird whether a razorbill, a gull or a string of gannets passing is magnified resembling an art work against a white canvas. I suggest the gentle easterly breeze may bring the first clue of the approaching Bass as the distinctive aroma can be carried in the wind, but no, our first indication as the mist thinned a little, were the many gannets sitting on the water and, as if by magic, we broke though the swirling wall, blue skies and a spotlight of sun shone directly down on the Bass. Stunning!

I was defeated at Tantallon Castle although a slight shadow was spotted, but again it highlights the treacherous coastline where many ships have floundered, or the reality in times gone by when a hostile ship may sail past, unchallenged, and our passengers return having had a most wonderful experience

Isle of May: finally we made it out although our first trip was somewhat challenging but so enjoyable, on the second day we all enjoyed the new visitor centre, very eco aware although water is still a challenge even at this time of year. The living roof is bedding in and it is hoped that the terns (the first arctic terns also seen this week) may eventually take to nesting on it – that will be interesting. I had time to wander around and, as with the Bass, you see the same birds returning to the same sites. It’s heart-warming to know they have survived the winter. The easterlies have brought in a few migrants from willow warbler, whitethroat, whinchat pied flycatcher, wryneck to name but a few, so it’s been a brilliant few days on the May


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