Wildlife sightings 25 August 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Bass Rock – The gannet chicks are preparing themselves to leave the nest on the Bass Rock and many have now fully moulted. We are yet to spot the first gugas in the lighthouse courtyard but a few around the cameras are practicing flapping and warming up for their first flight. There are still lots of young chicks, too, on camera that still have their full white down.

Fidra – The peregrines continue to be spotted on both the Bass and Fidra now that the other nesting seabirds have headed off. Fulmars and their chicks remain on Fidra, however, and we have also seen the first curlews and winter waders of the season on the island.

Craigleith –  Quite quiet at the moment with the exception of adult and juvenile shags and cormorants as well as the odd SOS Puffin volunteer. The mallow excursions will continue up until the female grey seals haul themselves out to give birth. We have seen a few seals on the island in the past week but they don’t stay for too long.

Isle of May  – Quiet following the departure of the breeding auks with one or two fulmars remaining. However, soon the beach will be full of grey seals and their pups.

290816 la fidra peregrine


Wildlife sightings 18 August 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Puffins have now left the islands so the main focus in the Discovery Centre now falls onto gannets including the gugas. There are a lot of moulted juveniles now on the camera and we may soon see a few take off for the first time. The lighthouse camera has been giving us some great views of the peregrines perching on the railings but soon it will be firmly focused on the courtyard and to the gugas making their way down from the nests. One ramp is in place to help them on their way when they are ready and a few more will be set up by Maggie and others when there is an available trip out there.

Fulmar chicks are still seen on our Fidra and May cameras and show no sign of setting off just yet. The kittiwake chicks at Dunbar are developing well with many now fledging and perching on adjacent bricks and ledges along the castle walls.

Although chicks are now beginning to fledge and head off on their winter migration the breeding season is still not quite finished with grey seals now on their way back to the May and Craigleith respectively to give birth to pups. A few seals have been spotted on our Craigleith camera but no sign just yet on the May. Seal season will be back again this year in the DC with talks, trails, activities and a few other extras.

220816 la bass rock


Wildlife sightings 11 August 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

As expected our puffins have all left the islands now and headed back out to sea. We’ve had a few successful puffling rescues so far, with one named Mr Whippy gaining fame in the media after being found under an ice cream van.

There are still some seals being seen around Craigleith but the sailing championship is making it difficult to spot them at the moment. Several dolphins were seen by our boat crews though, so there are still plenty of animals out there!

Elsewhere we have been seeing both of our peregrines on Fidra, often with kills. The new Bass Rock camera has been giving us some great views of the Bass Rock peregrines and is giving us a much better opportunity to see them regularly. The gannets are still flourishing on the Bass Rock and have been plunge diving just offshore for most of this week, often coming very close to the Centre. Gannets enjoy windy conditions and so have no doubt been taking advantage of the recent blustery conditions. Our oldest gannet chick is yet to fledge but lots of the gannet chicks are starting to develop their dark feathers and are getting very near to fledging.

Our fulmar chicks are growing rapidly and the oldest chick is starting to get quite large thanks to some regular attention from its parents. They will still be here for a few more weeks though so there is plenty of time to visit the Discovery Centre and see them before they leave!

The good news is that many of our winter waders are beginning to come back, with turnstones and redshanks spotted on the rocks around the harbour. Starling, sparrow and swallow fledglings are flitting about the harbour and outside the Centre as well and so there are lots to see from our telescope deck and even just from the Café decking.

180816 la fidra

Wildlife sightings 4 August 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

It feels as if it has just begun but already puffin season is coming to an end on the islands with numbers declining rapidly this week. There are still a few left on Craigleith and the Isle of May but we expect them to leave completely in the next week or so. It’s too early to tell how the season has been for them but so far we have had fewer pufflings rescued this year which hopefully means they have made it safely out to sea. After leaving us the plucky little puffins will brave the North Atlantic and Arctic seas for the next year before returning to us, we wish them well!

But, as one bird is leaving, we are pleased to welcome a number of fluffy little fulmar chicks which are visible on our Isle of May cameras and on our Fidra North camera. They will still be here for another month so there is plenty of time to see them if you haven’t already. Our kittiwakes are also starting to leave but a few young ones are still clearly visible on the Isle of May.

The adult male and juvenile female peregrine falcons are being seen with increasing regularity on Fidra. As the seabirds start to leave the peregrines begin to occupy new perches around the island which keeps the staff guessing as to where they will next appear!

This month has also seen an increase in seal sightings with several being seen around Craigleith. It will still be a few months though before seal season begins and the Isle of May is covered in lovely little seal pups!

The gannets are thankfully still here although our oldest gannet chick is now almost 11 weeks old and should be fledging in the next 2 weeks. Many are still being born however so we expect the gannets to be here for months to come. We have begun using our Bass Rock lighthouse camera this week which is giving us a very different perspective on things and is a really good addition to the Discovery Centre.

090816 la bass rock

Wildlife sightings 28 July 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Last week saw the return of the Fidra cameras following a short power issue and the sight of a fulmar chick on the North camera. It is often quite rare to see these chicks until they are more developed and are keen to leave the nest. However, this chick still appears to be quite young with parents coming and going. Only one chick spotted on Fidra so far but, hopefully, we will start seeing more and more over the coming weeks. The peregrines have also been making their usual appearances on their respective ledges though, with the presence of guillemots, razorbills, fulmars as well as gulls, they have not been as frequent as they are in winter.

The Bass Rock continues to shine white, especially in recent weeks with the sunnier weather and plenty of gugas now beginning to moult. Soon we will have darker speckled juveniles on the cameras preparing and waiting to take their first flight. The lighthouse camera will be going online in the next few weeks to be able to view this behaviour.

Cormorant and shag juveniles are still around on Craigleith, though less so on the May. Guillemot and razorbill numbers are also decreasing as they, too, head off on their own winter migration. Puffins are still here and fingers crossed they stay a bit later this year.