Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Liz
Things are really getting going in the Discovery Centre this week as we continue to deliver regular species talks, and families have great fun at Professor Egghead’s Alien Invasion Show. The Bass Rock is now awash with gannets and there is a constant cloud of birds circling above with plenty of great behaviour visible on the cameras. On Wednesday Maggie spotted the first gannet egg of the season! There was much excitement as staff and public alike clustered around the screen. The peregrine has been less frequent on the Bass lighthouse this week, however excellent views of two birds together on Craigleith have been delighting visitors. Alex believes they may be juveniles and we will be keeping a close eye on the Craigleith cliffs in the coming weeks.
The shag nest on Fidra now contains three eggs and a female on the Isle of May has also begun to lay. We look forward to many more to follow soon. Meanwhile the cormorants on Craigleith will soon be expecting their first chicks! The team will be watching with great anticipation in the coming days.
The puffins continue to be choosy about the weather. Many have been coming ashore in the sunshine, with lots of billing, gaping and burrow exploration going on, but greyer days have seen most of them staying at sea. We are gradually seeing them with more regularity and visitors are enjoying their antics. Visitors were also thrilled to see very close up views of a young seal, which spent two days lounging in the sunshine on the stones of Pilgrim’s Haven on the Isle of May at the weekend.
Sightings – Maggie Sheddan
Bass – who is going to spot that first egg? It’s out there! Many birds are settled on nests, pull up a chair and scan those bellies for the webs wrapped around that egg.
I had written this on the morning of the 15 April. With a little time to spare in the afternoon I took time out to scan the colony. A gentleman visiting the Centre for the first time was hastily sitting sketching a stunning shag sitting on its nest on Fidra (before a young child took the control and the tranquil moment had gone). I was fixed on a very settled bird. Lots of jabbing and squabbling surrounding it but it only extended its neck and jabbed. Patience was rewarded as a split second lift I was sure I spotted an egg. The gentleman’s attention was now drawn to this bird. A pre-set was quickly secured in case the same fun-loving child appeared again. I explained what I was looking for.
We watched and waited, and waited, and some, finally it rose up again and he too spotted it. It really made his day as he was sketching and taking photos for his daughter, a keen photographer.
The first egg spotted, but I’m sure there are more! It won’t be until June when chicks become more visible that we see a chick that is older than the ‘first’ egg we spot. So keep scanning!
May – Puffins came and went during my week but it was lovely to lie in bed as daylight broke and watch them parading by their burrows just outside my window. Migration-wise it quietened a little but the chiffchaff and wheatear hung around for a few days. The mouse researchers daily trapping ritual continued, with plenty being caught. A cosy lined box with dinner (bird seed) is an attractive lure. A rather plump mouse had been caught and tagged, (tiny tags with a number are attached to the ear). We were told she was pregnant. Each day she was re-trapped. Bex was at the ready with her maternity box to house them if we found they had been born in the trap. By the 5th day we began to think this ‘large’ mouse may not be pregnant. Living close to the prosperous area of the compost heap perhaps it could just be a very well fed, fat mouse that suddenly had a cosy restaurant with daily fresh food, warmth and comfort to enjoy. I will update you if I hear anything.
Closer to home – Sandwich terns have been flying around this last few days and on Fidra greylag and mallard are both incubating large clutches.