Wildlife sightings 30 June 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Lee

All islands are buzzing with activity this week with plenty of new chicks arriving. The Bass Rock is now stocked with newly hatched gannet chicks and now only a few eggs remain. Fidra, Craigleith and the May are awash with puffins, some of which can be seen carrying a steady flow of sand eels to their burrows. The male peregrine has also been a common sight throughout this week occasionally moving from ledge to ledge around Fidra cliff and the local razorbill along with its chick has seemingly disappeared.

Bass Rock June 2 2016

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Wildlife sightings 23 June 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Our different chicks on the camera are all doing really well. The first gannet chick is now sitting slightly out of the nest and soon we will see it moult all of that white down and develop juvenile plumage. We are now seeing new gannet chicks emerge nearly every day and soon our Bass Rock cameras will be full of adults and gugas. Guillemot chicks on Fidra are doing well and we also had our first razorbill chick hatch last Thursday. Sadly the chick is no longer on the cliff that it was resting on with its parents and we are unsure as to what has happened to it. Kittiwake chicks are also present on our Dunbar Harbour camera which is great to see after not having this camera working last year.

The shag and cormorant chicks on Isle of May and Craigleith are both doing well at their respective nests though there was some unusual behaviour on the main May nest that we have been watching this season. A shag with a red ring (AFU) began pushing out the young shags out of their nest and began rearranging the nest almost as if it was preparing it to lay eggs. There was no sign of either adult (Charlie ‘ZCA’ or Lola ‘BAU’) during this behaviour though later on when we checked on the nest the parents had returned and the chicks were safely back on the nest. All three chicks have been ringed and Scott has done a good job of spotting their letters and has added them to our ongoing Darvick ring records.

Herring gulls have been breeding heavily on Craigleith this season and their nests are quite noticeable amongst the growing vegetation in the glen area of the island. One pair ‘Islay and Jura’ have been sitting on a nest and this week a chick was spotted though Sarah believes it is approx. 3-4 weeks going off its plumage. Puffins are doing well on Craigleith also and don’t seem to be too bothered about these curious gull chicks looking down into their burrows. This will inevitably change however when the chicks become a lot older and start looking for pufflings. No sign of puffins with sandeels yet indicating the first chicks but fingers crossed we will catch this on our cameras soon.

Bass Rock June 2016

Wildlife sightings 16 June 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

It’s has been another busy week for us with a lot of gannet chicks hatching, many of the chicks visible are only a few days old and are yet to develop feathers. Our guillemots have also started to hatch on the Isle of May and Fidra, chicks are still a bit difficult to spot as they are taking shelter from the rain but within the next week or so we should have lots of little fluffy chicks. Our first razorbill chick has also hatched this morning; it belongs to the pair nesting in front of our Fidra Cliff camera.

Our seals are still making regular appearances on Craigleith with four being spotted together on Saturday, one male and three young females.

Our peregrines made a welcome return this week with a pair being spotted on the Bass Rock lighthouse sharing a kill. Our young female peregrine has also made an appearance on Fidra after not being seen for a little while. Peregrines are not wet weather specialists and so have most likely been taking shelter during the rather unpleasant weather (who can blame them!).

Unfortunately we had some more bad news from our young shag pair on the Isle of May. The birds (tagged White NDJ) laid a second egg, after losing their first but sadly they have lost their second egg as well. It is unlikely that they will lay a third but hopefully they will return, more experienced, next year. Our other chicks belonging to Charlie and Lola have been ringed and so we will be able to track their progress for years to come. There are three large chicks which are all doing well and certainly keeping their parents busy!

It’s not all over yet for the egg laying season as our fulmar and kittiwake chicks are due to hatch. Both are expected soon with kittiwakes due to hatch within the next five days.

Check out the live action via the Seabird Centre webcams. Click HERE to view. 

Fidra June 2016

Wildlife sightings 9 June 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

We had our first gannet chick on camera last Friday, spotted by Scott, and help from Maggie as she spotted a few chicks by the chapel on her landing trips. Probably coming up to two weeks old as it already has quite a lot of white fluffy down. At the moment it is still our only gannet chick on camera though the search for the second is now on. Still a lot of mating behaviour and courtship on the camera with the latecomers preparing their nest for eggs.

It has not all been good news on the cameras, however, with one shag pair on the Isle of May (white NDJ) losing their egg on Monday. It was seen on a lower ledge below the nest. This is a reasonably new pair spotted on our cameras, with help from the Darvick rings supporting this. Unfortunately a lot of younger parents will lose their first eggs from inexperience and not building an adequate nest. The chicks to the left of this nest, however, are doing really well and are even beginning to stand and leave the nest – only for the mother/father to encourage them back to feed. Ringers have been out on the islands in the past week so we may start seeing some of the chicks with rings, too. Please keep an eye for any ringed shags, adult or chick on the cameras and please record in our sightings book or yellow folder. This information is important to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) which tracks these ringed shags in order to find out where they winter. It is also interesting to our visitors and members.

Guillemots and razorbills still have their eggs, as do the kittiwakes at Dunbar with no sign just yet of their first respective chicks. The peregrines are still being spotted occasionally on Fidra and Bass but not as frequently as they were during the winter months. This is largely due to smaller seabirds nesting on the cliffs taking up the feeding posts of the Fidra pair and daughter. We are seeing high numbers of grey seals on the May and Craigleith, at least high for this time of year. On Sunday we spotted eight grey seals on the Craig of various sizes so some young seals included.

Dunbar June

Wildlife sightings 2 June 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

As summer approaches we are seeing more and more chicks on the camera. We spotted our first herring gull chicks of the season on Fidra earlier this week and today we have seen even more. Many are already mobile and exploring their surroundings, with a few already being bold enough to enter a puffin’s burrow. The first gannet chick of the season was spotted by Maggie on one of her trips to the Bass but we are yet to see it on our cameras. It won’t be too long however until the Bass cameras are full of gugas.

The peregrines are still being spotted on our Fidra and Bass cameras respectively with the latter being spotted with prey around the lighthouse platforms. Razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes all still have eggs and we await our first chicks of these seabirds on our cameras.

There have been quite a few seal sightings this week with a few being spotted on both Craigleith and the Isle of May. Both islands, though busy during the pupping season, do have resident colonies of grey seals that occasionally haul themselves out on the shore to rest.

Sad news of a minke whale washing up on a beach at St Andrews this week. Though we do not experience the same numbers of cetaceans as the Moray Firth, we are lucky to get the occasional minke whale as well as bottlenose dolphin and porpoise in the Forth. The boat team will soon be reporting sightings of these over the coming months and we hope to spot them too on the cameras in the Discovery Centre as well as from the Scope Deck.

Bass Rock June