Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex
A great start to the week, with a trip out to the Bass Rock. No signs of any gannets when we were out on the island but still a little too early to be seeing them just yet. No kittiwakes either at Dunbar but lots of time and opportunities to try to spot the first arrivals.
The shags continue to prepare their nests on the May, Fidra and Craigleith. We continue to see our ringed shags ‘Charlie’ and ‘Lola’ as well as many other ringed shags, not just on the May but on the other islands too. A few cormorants have been spotted preparing their nests this week on the Craig and a peregrine has also made a few appearances on the Craig cliff camera.
The male peregrine and young female continue to be seen via the Fidra cliff camera often frightening the resting fulmars. They themselves have been doing well on all the islands with lots of courtship behaviour still to be seen. Guillemots continue to be spotted on the Fidra North camera among the old tram tracks but only for a short period in the morning. This is compared to the guillemots on the May which have been spending lots of time on the stacks, often into the afternoon in good weather.
Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex
Fidra continues to be a flurry of activity with more and more fulmars arriving at their small depressions in the cliff face. We have been seeing lots of courtship and billing during the day and in the mornings, we have seen them squabbling with returning shags who are also beginning their courtship and nesting behaviours. The peregrine male and young female continue to make appearances on the cliff ledges.
Our ringed shags, ‘Charlie’ and ‘Lola’, on the Isle of May are also doing very well with both male and female bringing back nesting material. This is the only developing shag nest that we have seen, however, over the coming weeks many more will begin to appear. In the past week, we have been treated to a few returning seal pups on the May and also Craigleith who have hauled themselves onto the beach to rest. They are all still very young but are looking in good health! Cormorants have begun to arrive back on Craigleith and, as with the shags, have also started to build their nests.
Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Scott
Things have been fairly quiet this week but that should be changing shortly. Our first gannets have been sighted by multiple people in East Lothian so it seems that a few are already on their way to the Bass Rock. It is usually around Valentine’s Day when they arrive in force but the arrival date can vary by a few weeks each way, depending on the conditions.
We have been seeing a lot of our peregrine pair on Fidra lately, with both being seen together very often. Our Craigleith ones are more elusive but can still be seen occasionally.
Our final seals on the Isle of May have left us, leaving a rather empty beach behind. Two of our resident shags, Charlie and Lola, have been seen on the rocks and are once again starting to build their nests. Shags have the longest breeding season of any seabird and Charlie and Lola were our first parents of last year so it is good to see them back.
A few of you may have seen the news that there has been a black redstart spotted in the area lately. It is an extremely rare sight that was seen most recently by Alan, one of the Discovery Centre volunteers. The staff still haven’t seen it so we are hoping he can find it for us again soon!
The latest wildlife sightings from the Discovery Centre cameras – Scott
Happy New Year from the DC team!
The start of the new year marks the end of seal season with only two seal pups left lounging on the beach. Both are quite old and should be heading off to sea shortly.
It is not all bad news, however, as both the Isle of May and Fidra are filling up with our resident guillemot populations. Fulmars, too, are back, squabbling for nest sites and going through a range of preening and bonding behaviours with their mates. It will still be another six weeks or so until our gannets arrive though. There is still a lot to see, however, as our winter waders are everywhere at the moment, giving those who venture onto the Scope Deck some excellent views.
Our peregrines continue to appear regularly on Fidra, lately both have been seen sitting together which is quite unusual. Our Craigleith peregrines have also been around, they are not easy to see on cameras but can be sighted from our Scope Deck. We’ve updated the whiteboard with a labelled map to highlight where you are most likely to find them.
The latest news from the Discovery Centre team – Alex
As we approach Christmas many of our grey seals have now departed, from both the Isle of May and Craigleith. Overall it has been a great seal season in terms of numbers and it is believed that Craigleith has had its record season for pups for the past seven years or so.
Isle of May has also been busy with approx. 80 pups born at Pilgrims Haven, though it is always difficult to get an accurate number. There are still a few young pups left on the May still dependent on their mothers for food. Many moulted pups have headed up the slope to the wall for a bit of an explore and are ready to head out to sea.
Guillemots continue to be seen in the mornings on the main stacks at the May but are often gone by mid-day. Fulmars continue to be seen on Fidra with a lot of courtship behaviour and preening. They will soon depart once again for the open sea before returning to breed next year. The peregrines continue to be spotted on both Fidra and Craigleith respectively, with the young female being the main star of the pairs that we have around the islands.
A black redstart has been spotted behind the Centre next to the lobster hatchery storage units. With fewer than 100 breeding pairs in the UK it is a very rare sight! Maggie was speaking with one lady yesterday who had heard the news about the bird being spotted and was keen to see it. We may receive many visitors in the coming days who wish to see this very rare bird.
A new addition to the Discovery Centre is our sightings board. Kindly supported by the volunteers, the board will be particularly useful to demonstrate what can be seen on the cameras or what has been seen, such as the first gannet arrival, first egg, chick etc.