Wildlife sightings 2 Apr 2015

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

The Bass Rock is nearly completely white with many gannets being spotted collecting and returning nest materials to their partners to build their nests. Many gannets have also been spotted from the Scope Deck quite close to shore in the past couple of days. Hopefully we will enjoy the same spectacle as last year with plunge diving gannets just off the Café deck! The peregrine female is also being spotted on the lighthouse railings more often, compared to over the winter months. No sign of the male yet but we will wait and see.

Fidra still plays host to the peregrine pair with both male and female being spotted over the past week, again on their usual perching spots. Fulmars, guillemots and razorbills continue to be spotted on the cliff faces as well as shags with two nest sites being sighted so far. Not many puffins have been sighted on Fidra cameras compared to the Isle of May and Craigleith.

Kittiwake pairs continue to return to the two castle stacks at Dunbar Harbour with more and more nests beginning to form. Eiders also continue to visit the harbour and Sammy the seal has also made an appearance this week along the harbour wall close to the docked boats.

Craigleith has seen the emergence of even more cormorant nests with eggs. Current count is five nests with one holding four eggs. A peregrine female has been spotted more and more on the island, on a ledge looking down precariously over a shag nest. Some visitors were also lucky to observe the female return to the ledge with a fresh kill. As well as seabirds and birds of prey, the island was also the venue for a small pod of dolphins that were spotted from the scope deck. It is still uncertain how many were in the pod but staff were able to observe at least six individuals exhibiting surface behaviour with their dorsal fins clearly above the water.

The ringed shags on the Isle of May continue to be sighted on their nests spending more and more time together on the nest than not. Hopefully we will be seeing eggs in the nests in the coming weeks. A shag nest was also spotted high on the cliff face by Fran. At first it was believed that they were trying to collect a large stick that was lodged in the cliff. However it appears that they have actually incorporated the stick into their nest structure.

Sightings – Maggie Sheddan 

Bass: From the slightly haphazard looking colony of recent days, at switch on the other morning, clear defined rows, settled birds. Many have now returned with bill fencing, bowing, jabbing and stabbing as territories are defended and nests rebuilt, even mating has been seen.

Sailing toward the Rock the other morning, the air was full of activity with strings of purposeful birds, seaweed hanging from the bill returning after their dawn outing.

We sat off the Bass below the battlements, the talk about the covenanters, the grim reality that faced them as they were hauled up in a basket to the landing site. The ominous feeling they must have had knowing the harsh conditions that lay ahead. I wondered if this should not be a consideration for reintroduction of the basket for our present day visitor that at times sits with that ominous feeling, as the breaking white water crashes over the landing site and we know the sea has again defeated all hope of landing.

With BST and a weather window, we managed a brief visit. While Andy changed timers I headed up to move the wiper on the camera. It gave me a few minutes to scan the colony. I spotted four darvick ringed birds, all paired. Gable gannet is there although not settled, the chapel wall had nine birds on it and the five now nesting inside were busily attending their sites. Thankfully ‘our area’ had no sign of attempted nest building, despite birds covering it, but it is early days!

I spotted an eider pair the previous day on the landing site. Several breed on the island. There are signs of pairing ongoing. I saw one lone female being pursued by five males in the east bay. They are certainly gathering now.

Turnstones are still around and several redshanks have been feeding on Anchor Green early morning along with 60+ starlings. Always present is the easily identifiable herring gull (“Stumpy”) with the gammy web. He has been here for many years now. It does show that even with injury, birds do adapt.