Wildlife Sightings 17 August 2017


It is hard to believe but we are already at the end of the season. Only our gannets remain, huddled up on the Bass Rock with their large fluffy chicks. In a couple more weeks we will get to seem them fledge and begin life in the sea but this week we had another sighting that took the focus away from the gannets.

Last weekend, on the far side of the Bass Rock,  our boat team saw a minke whale. This whale has been seen in the forth over the last few weeks but is an excpetionally rare animal to spot. The whale was only a few metres from the boat and seemed perfectly content. The Firth of Forth is very shallow and generally unsuitable for whales. It is possible though that a single whale could live here but it is likely it will eventually make it’s way back out to sea.

Elsewhere we are continuing to see more and more of our peregrine falcons who are returning to Fidra more regulalry now that the seabirds are leaving. We have seen 3 different ones on the island, our original two have been joined by another juvenile female who we do not know much about.

The good news is we don’t have long to go until our grey seals arrive and start to breed!

Keep up-to-date with the wildlife action with our webcams.

Wildlife Sightings 10 August 2017


There is less action now as the season draws to a close. The last of our kittiwakes are lingering on the Isle of May, Fidra and Dunbar with a few juveniles still being seen.

Our fulmars on Fidra and the Isle of May are still doing well, the chicks are getting quite large but still fairly elusive, tending to hide away out of view from our cameras. We have not seen any puffins on the islands over the last few days but a few have been seen from our boat trips.

Our gannets are still flourishing with a vast number being seen diving all along the coastline this morning. It is very unusual to see them so close to the shore and in such huge numbers, stretching from the East beach all the way to Fidra. We have switched our Bass Rock cameras over in the Discovery Centre again and have managed to find some older chicks higher up the island. It is tricky to accurately age a chick but they appear to be around 8-9 weeks old and are beginning to gain their dark adult feathers. Typically it is around 13 weeks before they fledge.

A few lucky passengers managed to spot dolphins at the weekend. The morning boat trips saw them coming up from Tantallon and the later trips followed them from Lamb to Fidra. They were easily visible from the telescope deck on Saturday and Sunday. There is now an effort being made to identify the dolphins so we encourage anyone with photos to send them in so a ID catalogue can be made and we can work out where they go when they are not here.

Keep up-to-date with the wildlife action with our webcams.

Wildlife Sightings 3 August


Well things are starting to quieten down now after a busy period.

Our puffins have been leaving this week and there are few, if any, left now. The majority will now be out in the Atlantic for the rest of the year before coming back here to breed next year. It won’t be long until researchers publish the details of puffin populations for this year but given some of the poor summer weather we’ve had the results are not expected to be particularly good this year.

The last of the kittiwakes are nearly gone too with just a few large juveniles left. The rock stacks around the Isle of May are now completely deserted of razorbills and guillemots. Even our shags are mostly away with only a few left.

On Craigleith we still have a lot of juvenile cormorants who appear to have formed a large social group. The sunshine is still resulting in a few grey seals hauling out to sunbathe on the shoreline which is always good to see.

Fidra doesn’t have many seabirds left so our peregrines are once again becoming easy to spot now that most of their favourite perches are empty. There are still a few fulmars  around that the peregrines are wary of as they are very territorial and protective of their chicks. Hopefully we will continue to see the peregrines through winter as we did last year.

The gannets of course are still here on the Bass Rock. Our largest chick is now around 8 weeks old and so will be here for around a month before leaving. It won’t be long now until staff head out to the island to put up some ramps around the lighthouse to stop the guga’s, (young gannets) getting stuck in the walled courtyard which they sometimes do. Even once they have fledged they will stay in the area for a week or two so we still have a few months more to watch our gannets.

The good news is that we have had dolphins sighted twice this week and there has even been a minke whale spotted from the Isle of May lately so do keep an eye out if you go on one of our boat trips!

Keep up-to-date with the wildlife action with our webcams.

Wildlife sightings 13 July

What’s on the cameras from the Discovery Centre team – Scott


It has been a good week for our seabirds as the weather has improved which gives us a chance to see how things have changed.

The good news is our puffins are still here, being seen regularly on Fidra, Craigleith and the Isle of May. They usually leave in mid to late July and so are unlikely to be around much longer. If you haven’t seen them yet then it is definitely worth a visit to the Discovery Centre to have a look before they go! The recent rain has made the vegetation on Craigleith shoot up and cover the puffin burrows. This shouldn’t be a problem and may actually afford the pufflings (puffin chicks) some protection from the gulls when they leave the nest and head to the sea.

Elsewhere on Craigleth our seals have made a welcome return and have been sunbathing on the rocks several days this week. There were also a few spotted around the Isle of Lamb yesterday which was particularly good news for our boat passengers who all got great views. All birds apart from the fulmars have chicks at the moment and the chicks are also visible during our boat trips at the moment.

The gannets are progressing well on the Bass Rock. There are still many which haven’t hatched but others which are several weeks old and extremely fluffy. It will still be some time before the gannets fledge though as usual we will ensure there are ramps around the lighthouse area to prevent the chicks getting stuck in the walled courtyard.

The Isle of May has had a few pufflings fledge lately with one or two being successfully rescued after going the wrong way and ending up lost on the islands. The team from Countryfile have been filming there lately as well to highlight the conservation work that is going on at the moment.

Andrew, our Education Officer, was out with some children this week and managed to spot a pod of dolphins just a few metres off the rocks on the East beach. This was an incredible sighting and we will be keeping a look out for the dolphins over the coming weeks!

Keep up-to-date with the wildlife action with our webcams.


Wildlife sightings 29 June

What’s on camera from the Discovery Centre team – Scott


It’s been pretty wet on the islands the last few days but the birds are bearing up well.

We are now seeing  lots of gannet chicks all across the Bass Rock. There are still many that have not hatched yet but we have some large chicks right underneath the camera which offer great views to those in the Discovery Centre.

Elsewhere, we have a large number of puffins breeding on Fidra which is good news. There are only around 1500 puffins on Fidra so it is important that breeding is successful for such a small population. They are breeding alongside the fulmars who are now the only bird who does not yet have chicks. They were also the last species to hatch last year and it is not unusual for them to be later than other seabirds. Our Fidra peregrines have been seen, both the young female and our resident male made a rare appearance on camera recently.

Our Isle of May focus continues to be on the progress of our shag chicks. They won’t be around for too much longer so do come and see them before they go! They are already out of the nest and wandering about but have not yet fledged and left completely. James, our boat guide, did a trip to the Isle of May recently and saw two porpoises and a minke whale during the crossing. We are keeping an eye out for them again but if any of you have seen them do let us know or leave a comment below.

Finally, we are starting to see a lot more seabirds around the coastline outside the centre. Many eider ducks are there now with their ducklings and there have been a few Arctic terns flying over the beach and diving for food just off our cafe decking. It is fairly unusual to see a tern that close to the shore so keep an eye out on your way into the centre!

As always, if you see anything interesting or need help identifying something then just let us know and we’ll do our best to help.

Keep up-to-date with what’s on camera with our webcams.

Wildlife sightings 23 June 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Shag nest on Isle of MayGuillemot with chick on Fidra

The Bass Rock chicks have been increasing in number this past week with many white and fluffy gugas appearing and in view on the cameras. Still a lot to hatch and arrive though we have noticed a lot of empty nests that did have eggs, perhaps the heavy rain spells we have had have led to loss of eggs. A lot of returning gannets on the ‘club’ area (area where juveniles gather) too with their dark speckled plumage mixed with their developing adult plumage.

We have had a few sightings of puffins with sandeels in their bills on Fidra this week, however on all occasions we have seen the gulls attack the adult puffin and stealing their hard earned catch. A discouraging sight considering the pressure they have to feed their hungry chicks with an already potentially depleting source of sandeels. RSPB’s puffarrazzi initiative is being met with positive feedback from visitors and members with many of them armed with their phones and cameras looking out for puffins holding fish. The young female peregrine has been making a lot more appearances in the past week, perhaps encouraged by the increasing number of puffins in the area, her favourite! The guillemots on Fidra are also supporting hatchlings with many adults being seen bringing back food.

The shag chicks on the Isle of May have been ringed so Charlie and Lola now have Green BIF, BID and BIH. These have been noted in our sightings book and sheet that Helen and the team have been doing an excellent job of updating for future reference. The other ‘named’ nests are doing well with ‘Fred’ and ‘Wilma’ now with two hatched chicks. Burton and Taylor unfortunately appear to only have one chick now out of the two that have hatched. Considering it is their first successful year breeding our fingers are crossed that their only chick fledges successfully

Keep up-to-date with what’s on camera HERE. 

Wildlife sightings 8 June 2017

What’s on camera from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

Good news, we saw our first gannet chick on Friday. It was spotted by Maggie, our Bass Rock guide, during a trip out to the island and she then found it for us on the cameras. It looks to be in the same place as the first chick last year, up against the wall of the chapel.

Elsewhere though our animals appear to be doing well. Puffins are coming and going regularly on Craigleith, and more and more have sand eels which indicates that their chicks have hatched. The cormorant chicks on Craigleith are now huge and should be fledging within the next 2 weeks.

On Fidra we are still seeing the peregrine falcons though they have been staying hidden lately due to the rain. We also have some herring gull chicks on Fidra, although not seen as a glamourous bird they probably have the cutest chicks and so they are definitely worth coming down to see!

Our Isle of May shags are continuing to do very well, so well in fact it is becoming very difficult to track how many chicks have hatched! Charlie and Lola have the oldest chicks and they are getting quite large now so they are very visible and sit right under the cameras which gives us some great views from the Discovery Centre.

Keep up-to-date with what’s on camera HERE.