Wildlife sightings 23 Apr 2015

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Bass Rock – Things are starting to quieten down but the theme of Easter is still present here in the Discovery Centre with more and more eggs being spotted every day. Gannet eggs are on the increase on Bass Rock though sadly we are spotting a few broken or damaged eggs. Although this is common with new parents getting to grips with parenthood, and unfortunately not having the experience on how to act and protect their egg, it is nevertheless a sad sight to see. Also the first gannet egg that was spotted a week ago now appears to have vanished and a dead gannet is resting in its place. We are unsure what may have happened to both the egg and adult. Despite this sadness the number of gannet eggs will increase in the following weeks.

Craigleith – As well as eggs we are also seeing a number of cormorant chicks on Craigleith. Following on from the first sighting of a chick a week ago, that same nest now has an additional chick, so two out of five eggs that the female laid. A nest a few metres away also has a chick so we should be seeing more and more little chicks popping out from underneath their mothers. Puffins are continuing to fluctuate in number, not only on Craigleith, but on Fidra and Isle of May also. Their numbers have been steadying over recent days and hopefully they are here to stay and will spend more time on land than on the water. Two adult puffins are still being seen on our burrow camera and it will be a huge success if they use the burrow to breed again, as they did last year.

The peregrine is making fewer appearances on Craigleith and this is a similar situation with the pairs on Fidra and Bass Rock. There have been no sightings of the suspected juveniles on Craigleith either. It is April, however, and this marks the start of their breeding season so it is not unusual for them to go into hiding for a few weeks.

Fidra – Continuing to show guillemots, fulmars and razorbills as well as Greylag geese. Goslings were spotted on Fidra a few days ago and a nest on Craigleith was also discovered by Andy during an island visit. It is nice to see that species other than the typical seabirds are using the islands for their nesting sites.

Sightings – Maggie Sheddan

Bass Rock – Finally landing to undertake essential maintenance, the 2 young grey seals stretched out on the helipad eyed us up, a quick scratch, realised we were no threat, rolled over and continued their nap. Sometime later I looked up from my ‘step scrubbing’ to see this wee face at the top of the stairs peering over watching me. I wasn’t sure if it wanted into the sea. Chatting to it (as one does) I moved slowly back up the steps trying not to scare it but aware if it spooked and headed toward me, these are narrow steps! It backed up a little enough that I could see mucus from its nose, not a healthy sign. It turned and headed toward a rather stagnant rock pool and stuck its head in where it stayed until we left. Despite spending almost 6 hours on the rock I only managed a quick 15min scan of the colony! (and you all think I’m chilling out there!). I did spot lots of eggs which are also being seen on camera but importantly I spotted 12 Darvicks, one with an egg. Had I had 6 hours to watch who know how many I may have seen. Thankfully, at the moment, no nests on the path, but I won’t hold my breath on that one! This last few days we’ve seen birds return to the low promontory. It’s looking good out there!

May – First eggs from all the Auk and Gull species now except the kittiwake. Eiders so camouflaged with their wonderful plumage you can pass within a meter of them unaware that you have done so. The season is truly underway.

Craigleith  – Great to see the first Cormorant chicks hatching but keep an eye out for the auk eggs now.

Shoreline – I was quite surprised to spot 31 Purple Sandpipers and 56 Turnstones on my WeBs survey the other day.
I counted 97 eiders 2 ringed plovers and 2 shelducks, along with oystercatchers and several redshanks. Quite a few sisikins were around and a lone skylark by the Glen golf course.

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