Wildlife sightings 24 March 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Puffins have landed in the Forth this week with the first puffins being spotted on the water at Craigleith by Margaret, one of our volunteers. She quickly spotted puffins on Fidra as well as the May completing the puffin ‘collection’. They were in very large numbers on all three islands and especially on the water off Craigleith. By early afternoon they soon vanished, as they often do this time of year, as they begin to arrive back.

Gannet numbers are increasing with lots of beak fencing, bowing and gannets bringing seaweed back to line the nest. Soon the Bass will be completely white. Guillemots, razorbills, shags and cormorants have also begun to increase on the islands and with Easter fast approaching it will indeed be ‘egg’ season on the cameras.

The peregrines continue to appear on Fidra and Craigleith, with the adults on the Bass yet to make an appearance in 2016. Kittiwakes are also increasing at Dunbar harbour which is great to see following our camera difficulties last year.

The catshark in the main tank is growing everyday and we hope to welcome it fully during the Easter break.


Wildlife sightings 17 March 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Lee

This week has been a very busy week with plenty of arrivals. Firstly, Fidra is alive with both herring gulls and shags with many of these shags either breeding or displaying in order to secure a mate. Peregrine falcons are still a common sight on Fidra – a male was sighted just this morning with the male’s partner also on Craigleith. The Bass Rock is now thriving with plenty of gannet pairs along with plenty of nest building and communication going on throughout the island. Besides the female peregrine, Craigleith is now a popular site for many cormorants, most of which are displaying to others. On most of the islands you are able to see an odd razorbill or guillemot. The mermaids purse in our tank still has not hatched but instead a handful of beadlet anemones are spitting out young ones in the tidal tank. Lastly, Dunbar harbour is beginning to fill with kittiwakes, and most are now nesting around the cliffs.

Wildlife sightings 11 March 2016

From the Discovery Centre team – Alex

The gannets are now increasing in number since their arrival just more than a week ago. Individuals have already begun to prepare their nests ready for the breeding season and pairs are reuniting with frantic beak fencing, as well as the occasional ‘bow’ to trespassers. At the moment the gannets are lining the nests with the little material that remains from last season. Soon we will start to see gannets flying to and from the nest with large amounts of seaweed in their beaks. This foraging will bring the gannets quite close to us here at the centre and we often see a dozen or so in the lead up the summer and the first eggs.

The peregrines continue to make their usual appearances on Fidra and Craigleith respectively and soon we will start seeing the peregrines back on the lighthouse railings on the Bass Rock.

Kittiwakes have also arrived at Dunbar and, as with the gannets, are preparing their nests on the small ledges of the castle remains. Numbers have fluctuated since their arrival on Wednesday but soon both stacks will be full. Shags, cormorants and guillemots are also in position on their respective nest sites and stacks, both at Fidra and Craigleith but also on the May.

On the May we have also seen two grey seal pups/moults on the beach, one spotted and the other browner in colour, so one female and one male. A female seal moult was also spotted on Craigleith on Wednesday and remained there all day hauled out on the rocks.

It appears that as we draw closer and closer to Easter, the more likely it is that our mermaid’s purse will hatch, perfect timing! The egg yolk is now completely gone and dark markings are appearing on the catsharks body. A second container is at hand which will be used for the 9cm long catshark once it hatches. We are very keen on showing the shark to visitors and especially to members following 8 months of monitoring. Convenient if it does indeed hatch at Easter to go along with our ray and turtle talk that we will be holding in the theatre at different points during the Easter holidays.

Bass Rock Web Cam 2



Wildlife sightings 3 March 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

The gannets are back! Alex was the first from the Centre team, along with two visitors – three-year-old May White and Jack Rutherford, were our Gannet Watch champs on Monday 29 February. They are still a bit camera shy but there is no doubt that they are here as we spotted a  dozen on Wednesday too. Not long now and the Bass Rock will be white again.

There is news from our fish tank too as our whelks have laid even more eggs. We don’t know when they will hatch but there will be snails everywhere!

We still have seals hauling out on Craigleith wondering what the shags are up to. What will the shags find this year to build a nest? Last year we had an interesting construction involving a BBQ grill…

On the Isle of May, Charlie (Blue ZCA) is busy building his nest in front of our camera (no strange things in there yet) and has obviously impressed a new female, Red BAU. However, he is a ladies’ man and swapped half-way through the breeding season for another female so it remains to be seen if they stay together for this year…

Our peregrine falcons are still making a near daily appearance on both Fidra and Craigleith and our lovely fulmars are looking gorgeous on camera.

Wildlife sightings 25 February 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

This week we are still waiting for the gannets to land. They are circling the Bass Rock but as they normally arrive first on the north side we don’t see them on camera. However, we definitively see an increase in numbers flying around! We see the peregrines nearly every day together with a multitude of herring gulls on Fidra. In Dunbar Harbour we spotted Sammy the Seal and are looking forward many more sightings over the season.
Finally the cameras on the Isle of May are now working and what a lovely sight: dozens of guillemots are on the cliffs in the morning!

Wildlife sightings 18 February 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

We now have two cameras working on the Bass Rock and are still eagerly looking out for gannets. They are flying around but so far none of them has landed in sight of the cameras.

On Craigleith we are still watching shags every day but we do spot some seals every so often hauling out and enjoying the spring sun. The peregrine is still making an appearance nearly every day on Fidra, as do the fulmars and shags. Last Saturday we saw some graylag geese as well. But what is keeping us excited still is our fish tank. Our mermaids purse is still refusing to hatch after fooling us a few weeks ago but we discovered that one of our common whelks has now laid eggs. Who knows we might end up with a lot more snails in future!