Wildlife sightings 19 Feb 2015

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

We are looking out for gannets! Last year they arrived on Valentine’s Day but this year we are still looking. We can see them circling the Bass Rock from the Scope Deck but who will spot the first gannet on camera? Meanwhile we spotted the peregrine falcon on the lighthouse.

Our return of the Craigleith camera brought us lovely pictures of the cormorant colony. We can observe daily how they display to each other. In the morning, we very often see guillemots and razorbills on the cliffs and the guillemots floating in the water in big rafts. The fulmars are just above the cormorants and, of course, the herring gulls and the black backed gulls are not far away.

On the Isle of May, we have spotted a group of seals now nearly daily on the far end of Pilgrims Haven.

Fidra gave us good pictures of a pair of greylag geese this week and we have lots of fulmars and shags hanging around. The guillemots are there in the morning but normally disappear during the day.

Sightings – Maggie Sheddan

Bass Rock – armed with spades, brushes, and the essential flask of tea and chocolate, we hope to land on ‘The world’s largest Northern gannetry’ later this morning, not to spot gannets, (although I hope we do), but to clear the paths. It’s that time of year. I was looking at a photo that I took just a few years back where photographers were leaning on the chest high chapel wall cameras in hand. That same wall now is knee high such is the extent of the erosion.

Looking at past records, (and remember the records are only as good as the observations), we have seen the first landing anywhere between late Jan, (by the foghorn) and on camera from the 11 to the 23 Feb, but that doesn’t mean to say they haven’t landed prior, only that we have observed them on these dates, so always worth an early morning view with binoculars or scope, scan the cliffs, you may be surprised!

It will be interesting to see where the shags will settle as the extending colony has been pushing them out this last few years. However as the shags are already settling into sites, I think this year they should be fine in the areas they nested in last year, but as the gannetry below the battlements grows (this is one of the real growth areas of the gannetry) the shags will ultimately lose their territory.

I expect guillemots and the odd razorbill will be in the cave, fulmars swooping and chuckling. I wonder if there will be any kittiwakes? Time to keep a watch for their return.

It’s been interesting to hear the reaction to last week’s historic news about the Bass Rock. Many, particularly locals although it was wonderful news acknowledged that it was the largest ‘rock’ colony before, but when you say; “The Bass has overtaken St Kilda” there is a dawning and a recognition, that this is very special. Although St Kilda will always be magnificent and quite a magical journey, I think we have every reason to shout and crow this year about the Bass Rock.

Craigleith – wonderful to see the cormorants, white thigh patch flashing as it wing flaps and head flicks, displaying to attract a mate. I spotted on the webcam a shag looking quite settled. Any kittiwakes on the cliffs?

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