Wildlife sightings 29 September 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Dolphins – We have been very lucky this month to have had so many dolphin sightings, both from the Centre and the Scope Deck as well as on the boats. This past week was no different with a small pod of bottlenose dolphins spotted around the Bass Rock, heading west on Saturday.

Seal season is nearly upon us and more and more grey seals have been seen in the water off the May and Craigleith. David Steel, Isle of May reserve manager, had spotted a few females who he was keeping a close eye on, and he was rewarded on Monday with the first seal pup! Last year on our cameras our first pup arrived on 4 October, so keep your eyes peeled on the camera over the coming weeks!

Gannets and gugas begin to head off from the Bass with the “training area” around the lighthouse courtyard all but empty – a good sign that the ramps installed by Maggie over the past couple of years have been helpful in the gugas taking their first flight. No doubt they would have found a way eventually but these ramps have definitely had a positive impact on the gugas as they take this leap of faith. Many of our regular members have also been able to see this behaviour first hand and we have been receiving great feedback!

The peregrines are making more and more appearances on Fidra, Bass Rock and this week Craigleith. Erin and Irene spotted a male on one of the higher ledges this past Monday on Craigleith. Thanks to SOS Puffin, a lot of the tree mallow that used to cover these popular ledges has been cut back and rock outcrops are now visible to us and are giving us great images of the peregrine.



Wildlife sightings 22 September 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Helen

Gugas are everywhere – at the nest sites, wandering about annoying the neighbours, stuck in front of the lighthouse, at sea, in the air – it’s definitely thinning out on the Rock.

We’re still seeing dolphins, both on the cameras and from the Scope Deck, to the delight of staff and visitors. In the fish tanks we’ve got two new little blennies who are out and about exploring their new home.

And there’s an air of anticipation on the Isle of May as we await the first grey seal pups. None yet, lots of pregnant females bobbing about just off the beach on the Isle of May.

Keep up-to-date with the Discovery Centre cameras HERE.


Wildlife sightings 15 September 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Helen

Bass Rock is still covered in gannets although the chicks are now starting to leave.  Most chicks have their brown and speckly juvenile feathers, but there are one or two fluffy white ones there too.  There’s loads of activity, flapping juvenile wings, squabbling protective parents, and lots of noise! There are families of shags, particularly on Craigleith, preening after their fishing trips.  We’ve had several more sightings of dolphins in the Forth too. The peregrines have been out and about on Bass Rock and Fidra. As we wait for seal season to start, the first few pregnant females have been seen around the Isle of May.


Wildlife sightings 8 September 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

This week we were treated to the sight of a large pod of dolphins off Craigleith, which passengers on the CAT were lucky to experience up close. Numbers vary but approximately 35-40 dolphins were spotted in this pod which would make it one of the largest pods we have had here around the islands and the largest of 2016.

The gugas are starting to make their way down to the lighthouse and beyond onto the water in preparation for their long migration down to West Africa. The former are still too heavy to take off but soon they will be light enough to fly and will make their way up the boards and ramps to take their first flight. There are still a few young chicks with white fluffy down so we will have them here for a while to come.

We have had some sightings of seals in the past week but we are still waiting for the larger numbers to return to Craigleith and the May.

Fulmar chicks have fledged but the adults remain on Fidra and the May. Cormorant and shag adults and juveniles remain also around the lower shores of the islands and on Wednesday Sarah spotted a large number of shags jumping and diving into the water around Craigleith. We are yet to discover what this behaviour may be but Sarah is currently researching.

Wildlife sightings 1 September 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

Bass Rock: Gannets are still flourishing and over the last week have often plunge diving just outside. We are yet to see a gannet fledge yet but we have seen lots of them flap their wings and stretch as if they are about to fly off. It is likely that some will have left already but we are all eager to spot the first one fledge on camera.

Fidra: The island has been fairly quiet now that the kittiwakes and gulls have left. Our two resident peregrines have been seen recently with kills which is good to see as they had been a bit quiet lately. Elsewhere on the lower parts of the islands there have been a lot of shags seen and it appears they have had a successful breeding season.

Craigleith: We have had occasional seal sightings this week but they have been a bit scarce. We had a few unusual moments this week though, a large tree washed up on the beach and seemed to attract a group of shags who gathered nearby. In amongst this group was a lone gannet who sat with the shags for most of the morning. A gannet on Craigleith is a very rare sight and it seemed perfectly healthy so it is unclear why it was there.

Isle of May: The main focus here is still on our fulmar chicks which are growing rapidly. The IOM research team announced three days ago that their first fulmar had fledged and so we are expecting the ones on our camera to do so very shortly. After this, all eyes will be turned to the beach as we await our grey seals coming on land to breed.