Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex
It is well and truly the breeding season now in the Discovery Centre, with every camera being able to exhibit a variety of eggs, chicks and juveniles of numerous seabirds. The first gannet chick on the Bass Rock was spotted on Friday by our volunteers Alan and Carol, with a second chick being spotted on a nest adjacent to the first. At present we have more than four nests with chicks. Several of them are still quite scaly, but one or two are now developing their fluffy white down. They are still quite small and so their appearances are limited but there have been many sightings of chicks trying to emerge from underneath their parents. The peregrine male has been making a few more appearances in the past week, again on the lighthouse railings and there has been several sightings of him with fresh kills.
Puffins are now a lot more settled on the islands and we are now seeing large numbers on our cameras, especially an increase on Fidra. No sightings of any returning puffins with sand eels in their bills so an indication that it is not yet time to feed their chicks. We now have a restored burrow camera today and it will be watched attentively to see if it is being used by adult puffins. Fingers crossed!
Fidra island is still very busy with guillemots and razorbills and a few eggs of the former are also being spotted. The peregrine male and female juvenile are very frequent on the Fidra camera and I have observed them coming to blows over the past two weeks. An indication that the juvenile is becoming competitive over food. Her father therefore is beginning to force her out of the territory, which is a difficult task considering that she is a third larger! At times they appear to be civil with each other, even sharing a kill, as I observed on Tuesday afternoon, but this truce may not last much longer if she continues to be more successful in catching prey.
The cormorant chicks are now quite large and a few are showing signs of moulting their dark fluffy down. The majority of the juveniles are now the same size if not larger than their parents, and so are now out of their nests and standing alongside them. Several of the nests on Craigleith however have smaller chicks which were born later and still have a few weeks to emerge from underneath their parents. The shag chicks on Craigleith are also quite a size and, as with their cousins, are now the same size as their parents. A lot of burrow activity lately on the island with many puffins coming and going from their burrows, hopefully a sign that eggs are on their way! Herring gull chicks have also been spotted this week on the island, showing their mottled down.
The shag chicks on the Isle of May are still very young and continue to be sheltered by their parents from the harsh winds. Guillemots and razorbills continue to use the stacks but no sign of eggs yet. Puffins are also seen much more frequently on the May cameras but often flee when visitors to the island get too close.