Wildlife sightings 29 Jan 2015

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

We are keeping our eyes peeled on the Bass Rock. Last year the first gannet sighting was in mid February. So, only approximately two weeks to go! Who will spot the first gannet?

On Fidra we are greeted every morning by either fulmars or guillemots but, very often, the weather makes them disappear by midday. The peregrine makes a regular appearance and has been seen making a stoop (sharp dive) to catch something and later he disappeared just behind the rocks so unfortunately we couldn’t see what he caught. Only feathers were flying around…

Our Isle of May camera unfortunately became stuck. In the first half of the week it was pointing onto the shags and we could see that Charlie (Blue ZCA) and Juliette (Red XIJ) are still pestered by the other female Green UAP. We thought that, as we had seen her so often, we would give her a name, too. We decided upon Shakespeare and named Green UAP Portia. Unfortunately for us, later in the week, the camera moved. We now can see the guillemot colonies in the morning and I’m sure the researchers are happy to have this information again. However, it means that, at least for the moment, we have to wave goodbye to our shags until the weather has settled down and we can go to the Isle of May and see what is causing the problem.

Sightings from Maggie Sheddan

Bass Rock – Sitting at home with a cuppa watching a triangle of blue sky on the Bass web cam, just hoping to spot that unmistakable torpedo shaped body, distinctive ink tipped wings, gleaming in the morning sun, as they glide around the NE corner of the Rock that we can see on the camera….but not today. Of course, on the North side, by the foghorn, I suspect they may be coming in and sitting for short periods as, last Sunday out on my WeBS survey, there were several hundred flying around that NW corner. Definitely worth spending time on the viewing deck, watching. Like the first snowdrops, spotting the first gannets returning touches the soul. Spring and the new season, although a glimmer on the horizon, is not far away.

The WeBS survey was fun. I’d forgotten how many folk stop to chat, convinced you’re spotting exciting rarities.

In the days when we had our monthly walk from the Centre, we were certain to see redshank, turnstone, oystercatcher, dunlin, curlew and more. With growth in the town and busier beaches, there was a real downturn on the waders close to the Centre, but only a small part as to the reason for the decline along the entire coast of the common waders we used to see. That said, it was lovely to see the ringed plover flock that I’ve seen for several years now at the far end of the east beach, mixed with just a few dunlin. Redshank were few, less turnstones than usual, but I spotted three long-tail duck, razorbill, obviously eider, but interestingly, what I didn’t see were any black headed gulls or mallards that were always spotted at the far end of the beach.

It was beautiful light to scan the Craigleith cliffs . No sign of guillemots but plenty fulmars swooping along the cliffs

A quick update from Mark Holling who was surveying between Seacliff and Scoughall on Sunday: spotted at least 800 gannets flying in a long line east of the Bass, which included a couple of dark 1st year birds. I think these are possibly late breeders that spot groups of adults when they leave and just never head south.

From Lothian Birds: a few little Auk have been spotted at Barns Ness, Dunbar, Gullane Point and Cockenzie, another reason to enjoy the shelter of the scope deck and seawatch.



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