Wildlife sightings 8 May 2014

Sightings by Maggie

Isle of May: The whirring of the puffins overhead or the chuckling of the fulmars fill the air early morning, but as I popped my head out of the building at 06:00: AAA—-oooO could be heard all over. My eye caught the beautiful plumage of a male eider waddling up the slope. There had to be a female nearby, and then I saw the well-camouflaged head extend, turn toward the male and off they pair toddled, obviously looking for a suitable nesting site. Then another pair and another and another. Everywhere eiders were wandering, the subdued contact call, or the AAaoooO echoing around. I realise now how the SNH team always know where the females are nesting. The drake stays with the female for a while and if you spot the male you know where the nest site is! Once the eggs have been laid, the drake hangs around for a while, then leaves to join other males for the moult leaving the females to tend and care for the ducklings. That is when they become so difficult to spot but when you do, stop and take a little time to look at her beautiful plumage, she is stunning. I saw 4 males in hot pursuit of 1 female, pushing and jabbing at each hoping to be the one! Suddenly a nesting female, obviously hunkered down on her eggs jabbed and snapped at one of the males pushing past, but she did not rise up from her nest, and the males quickly scurried up the hill, all still in pursuit of the lone female. Such is the life of the female eider.
The first shags chicks hatched last Friday, none yet on camera. Kittiwakes – there is usually frantic nest building prior to egg laying often after rainy days when fresh water and mud is easily gathered. So keep a watch for the first egg!

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