Wildlife sightings 7 December 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Mal & Helen

With the nicer weather at the start of the week, we managed to do a seal count on Craigleith. So our last count was 6 cows, 5 young pups and 6 older pups. With some cows in and around the water line. From the Isle of May cameras today we counted 8 pups, 3 older ones moulting and 7 Mums.  No bulls visible today, but we have seen one relaxing on the beach recently.

All quiet on the Bass Rock now the gannets have gone. The shags and cormorants are still around on Fidra and Isle of May – a few shags already sporting their crests. Our peregrine on Fidra was struggling to eat lunch in the wind – little feathers were flying everywhere!

Our main focus is on the new ‘Poles Apart’ exhibition, dominated by our life-size cardboard polar bear!  We also have a penguin cut-out and plenty of opportunities for Christmas photos with the animals.

To keep up-to-date with the webcam action, click HERE.


Wildlife sightings 30 November 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex and Helen

Grey seals and their pups are still our main focus in the DC, with polar bears and penguins not too far behind (!) with our ‘Poles Apart’ winter exhibition set to start in the coming days. The pups on the Isle of May are doing well spending most of their time scratching away their moulting fur and exploring the beach now that their mothers have headed out to sea. We have been struggling to view the colony on the Craigleith cameras due to lack of winter light and weather. However, when they do come on we can see how the seals and the pups are doing and thankfully they look like a large number of pups have been born this year and are developing well. The colony hasn’t produced the same number of pups as 2016 but last year was a very unusual season for pup numbers on Craigleith.

We’ve said goodbye to the gannets on Bass Rock, with our last guga being seen this past Tuesday. The barren rocks are now home to just a few passing rock pipits and wagtails, with the occasional shag, cormorant and seal putting in an appearance.

Eiders are still visiting Dunbar harbour at lunchtimes and we’ve seen the peregrine having lunch on one of her usual spots!

To keep up-to-date with the webcam action, click HERE.

Wildlife sightings 23 November 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

We have noticed a slight drop in the number of seals currently on Isle of May though this is likely due to the mothers now weaning their pups and beginning to make their way back out to open water following mating. There are still plenty of pups to see on the beach on the May camera with many having already moulted but there are still a few smaller and leaner pups. Unfortunately these latter pups may have been abandoned so we hope that any mothers that are still currently on the beach will adopt them or provide them with milk to build up their blubber and fat reserves.

We still have a handful of gugas left on the Bass Rock and thankfully they are still getting visits and feeds from dad. They have been flapping their wings so it may only be a few more days until they head off for West Africa. Today Isobel, Jenny and I watched our young female peregrine on Fidra tuck into her breakfast which what appeared to be a blackbird, so quite a light breakfast! Some of our regular morning members were able to watch her feed too before she flew off. We continue to see our peregrines, often both at the same time on some mornings, which provides us with some wildlife to show our visitors.

To keep up-to-date with the webcam action, click HERE.

Wildlife sightings 16 November 2017

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Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Helen

Seal season is in full swing with masses of pups on Craigleith and Isle of May.  Some of the first pups will have left and headed out to sea to fend for themselves. There are lots of chubby pups – like a haggis with flippers, someone told us!

We still have a few gannets left on Bass Rock. The chicks have almost shed their white fluffy down so it won’t be long before they’re off.  The parents are still coming back a few times a day to feed them, but when left alone the chicks wander about and practise flying by flapping their huge wings.

We’re still seeing gulls, shags and peregrines.  And there are smaller birds, like pipits and wagtails foraging amongst the rocks.

To keep up-to-date with the webcam action, click HERE.

Wildlife sightings 9 November 2017

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Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Erin

Seal pup numbers have continued to grow this past week with over 30 pups now on Craigleith. One of the eldest has already begun to moult, indicating that it is around three weeks old. We have watched some of the older pups on the May taking to the water for the first time. Getting caught on the incoming tide can be fatal for pups who don’t yet carry enough blubber, however as the larger pups are better insulated, they’re able to handle a little swim.

The remaining gugas continue to do well and are still being fed several times a day. As older gugas continue to fledge, we have seen several wandering around looking a little confused as to why all the space has opened up and where everyone else has gone, they’re trying to find their way to the cliff edge.

The peregrines continue to be seen on Fidra, sometimes two at the same time but on different ledges. The individuals we are seeing at the moment look different to our regular peregrines though the young female peregrine still makes appearances on her usual cliff ledges.

Keep up-to-date with the wildlife action on our webcams – click HERE. 

Wildlife sightings 2 November 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Erin

Seal season continues with over 60 pups having now been born around our cameras on the May. Some of the eldest pups (around 3 weeks) have already began to moult, leaving tufts of their old white fluffy pelt blowing across the beach. Pups are first white in colour as traditionally they would have been born on ice. Although that isn’t the case today, the pups in the Forth have very few predators and therefore camouflage isn’t as necessary. The Craigleith colony continues to do well with 14 pups being spotted on our last camera count. No more live births, however some of the newer pups have continued to be named by visitors such as “Postman Pat” who we welcomed into the world last Friday.

A handful of gugas remain on the Bass and we continue to see juveniles fledging daily. There are still one or two chicks who have a few weeks longer to wait, but if they continue to be fed by their parents they should make it to fledge. Both a male and female peregrine were spotted on Fidra sitting very close to one another, this was a point of interest for visitors as it allowed them to really see the distinctive differences such as size and colour between the two.

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

Wildlife sightings 22 October


Seal season is in full swing! We spotted seals on Craigleith on Tuesday, so we could be seeing pups there soon.  On the Isle of May there are at least 23 pups, and loads of mums-to-be.  We’ve got live sound as well as pictures, so we can hear them singing over the swooshing of the waves – very evocative!

On the Bass Rock, we’ve noticed the fine weather last weekend (remember that?) encouraged many of the adult gannets to head off so it’s noticeably quieter this week.  The last few gannet chicks continue to grow though, some left alone now as Mum and Dad both need to fish.  We’ve been watching one guga busily preening out his white fluffy down to reveal his brown flight feathers, but he’s still at the ‘parliament goose’ stage – perhaps he can’t reach his head!

There are shags by the hundred on Craigleith and Fidra, and our peregrines are making regular appearances on Fidra.

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