Wildlife sightings 12 Mar 2015

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

The gannets continue to return to the Bass Rock in their droves! Soon there will be very little bare space left as it becomes covered in new nests. The peregrine falcon is appearing more often on the lighthouse.

The peregrine also continues to appear on Fidra as well as the occasional sighting on Craigleith. Fidra continues to host large numbers of guillemots and razorbills, huddled up together in dense groups, with the latter often hidden within the groups of guillemots. Fulmars and shags can also still be seen on the island.

Craigleith has increased in activity lately with more and more cormorants beginning to build their nests, as well as shags. Guillemots and razorbills also are increasing in number and popping up amongst the cormorants and shags. Winter waders such as curlews are also being seen on the island.

Dunbar Harbour has been host to eiders over the winter months as well as Sammy the Seal who also makes appearances. However the kittiwakes have now returned! Beginning on Tuesday night where they made a short appearance, they are continuing to grow in number and today (Friday) we were able to count approximately 40 kittiwakes, several of these in pairs on their nests. A welcome sight on the Dunbar camera!

Sightings – Maggie Sheddan

Dunbar kittiwakes: On the 10 March in the warmth of the afternoon sun 2 were seen at separate nest sites on the castle wall. They have also been spotted most mornings this past week but have gone by the time the cameras switch on. As with puffins they too will come and go so keep checking at various times of day as, here one minute, gone the next. It is lovely to see the return of this delicate but very noisy gull. Once settled the castle wall is a hub of activity with that unmistakable call alerting all, as it echoes around Dunbar harbour.

Craigleith: Puffins have also been spotted at various locations off the east coast generally early morning so if you’re out and about it’s worth a scan on the sea to see if they are rafting off Craigleith. Pan around when the cameras switch on but often they are away by that time.

East Beach: I spotted 9 purple sandpipers, 19 turnstones and 7 redshanks on the shoreline just below the pathway to the Centre, each species in their own group. The purple sandpipers were all roosting close together on a pile of seaweed, the water just lapping the fringes. The turnstones, spread out busily feeding and turning over the seaweed just a couple of meters from the purps, and the redshanks gathered together on the sandy shore escaping the incoming tide. I also spotted a black headed gull, now sporting its beautiful brown cap of summer plumage. Many of these birds will soon be heading off to their breeding sites.

Bass Rock: A sea of white! Every day more return, pairs renewing their bond, that intense bill fencing, jabbing and stabbing ongoing as sites are reclaimed, the constant bowing letting all around know that the site is theirs. With the strong westerly winds I watched them on the webcam, hanging in the air, approaching their nest site with such precision to drop gently in. Take off is so easy in this wind but how different and how much energy they use when on calm days you hear the wings flapping as they try to gain momentum and if they are heading your way, you duck!

The Hidden Bass: A few weeks ago when cleaning the pathway on the Rock, in the mud a strange object was found that was possibly a logger. It is indeed a logger from way back when Stefan Garth (Bob Furness’s team Glasgow University) were deploying loggers. Bob and Stefan both in Berlin at the moment are delighted to hear about it and it will be mailed out to them. Whether the data will process after this period of time, we have to wait and see.

Finally I’m still awaiting update on the eggs I collected last year (under License) for CEH in Leeds. A sub-set of the egg contents were then sent to their colleagues in Spain who were to analyse them for per fluorinated compounds. These chemicals, used in Teflon and textile, coatings have been shown to accumulate in bird eggs. The report would then give an up to date status report on contamination in the gannets for SNH and SEPA. Watch this space!

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