Wildlife sightings 28 January 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

Exiting news from the fish tank! Our little catshark is ready to hatch! It is wriggling its head from side to side to get out and starts to be very, very active. I’ll try to take as many photos as I can!

We are starting to see more shags on Craigleith. It’s great to see the camera up and running again but we can also see a lot of tree mallow. Lots of work for SOS Puffin! Please feel free to enlist to help out.

Fidra is still spoiling us with wonderful sights of fulmars. So lovely to see how the pairs groom each other. And in Dunbar we spotted a big group of eiders.

On Bass Rock we’re eagerly looking out for gannets. Even though we only have one camera running we hope to install more as soon as they come back from their winter maintenance. Gannets have been spotted apparently in North East Scotland, so keep your eyes peeled!

Wildlife sightings 21 January 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Lee

Fidra has been in the spotlight this week with both a male peregrine and the female juvenile peregrine sighted daily. Both peregrines are usually sighted near the Fidra cliff step ledges and despite resting relatively close to each other, they lack the aggression usually seen between competition. Plenty of fulmars are now situated around Fidra as well as Craigleith with plenty of nesting sites being claimed.

Craigleith is also a hive of activity as a handful of grey seals have been sighted along with a seal pup. Along with the grey seals, there are groups of greylag geese, which are now being sighted on a regular basis.

Wildlife sightings 14 January 2016

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

Despite it being January and the recent forecast of snow, the weather has been kind to the Discovery Centre lately by granting us long periods of sunshine. This has allowed us to reclaim the cameras on Bass Rock and Craigleith, albeit until the sun fades. Bass Rock is still very quiet, though it won’t be too long until the gannets return to prepare their nests. Craigleith also prepares for the return of the cormorants but, on Wednesday, we were able to spot a moulted seal pup resting amongst the rocky shoreline. There have been several occasions this week when pairs of fulmars have been resting on the usual peregrine spots on Fidra, much to the dismay of the male peregrine and his daughter. Fulmars on Fidra have been increasing in number as well as distribution, now taking up shelter and resting on once-empty cliffs.

However, with the poor weather we saw a lot of injured seabirds brought in to the Centre as well as general enquiries about injured wildlife. Recently there has been an increase in the number of auks being brought in, with guillemots being the main species that we have had at the Centre. There have also been many reports of little auks being washed up or found injured and exhausted in areas of Musselburgh and Aberlady. A lot of these cases have been as a result of the winter storms with birds being exhausted and hungry, unable to dive and feed in the strong swells and currents. Well done to all staff who have handled these cases and enquiries.

Wildlife sightings 19 Feb 2015

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Claudia

We are looking out for gannets! Last year they arrived on Valentine’s Day but this year we are still looking. We can see them circling the Bass Rock from the Scope Deck but who will spot the first gannet on camera? Meanwhile we spotted the peregrine falcon on the lighthouse.

Our return of the Craigleith camera brought us lovely pictures of the cormorant colony. We can observe daily how they display to each other. In the morning, we very often see guillemots and razorbills on the cliffs and the guillemots floating in the water in big rafts. The fulmars are just above the cormorants and, of course, the herring gulls and the black backed gulls are not far away.

On the Isle of May, we have spotted a group of seals now nearly daily on the far end of Pilgrims Haven.

Fidra gave us good pictures of a pair of greylag geese this week and we have lots of fulmars and shags hanging around. The guillemots are there in the morning but normally disappear during the day.

Sightings – Maggie Sheddan

Bass Rock – armed with spades, brushes, and the essential flask of tea and chocolate, we hope to land on ‘The world’s largest Northern gannetry’ later this morning, not to spot gannets, (although I hope we do), but to clear the paths. It’s that time of year. I was looking at a photo that I took just a few years back where photographers were leaning on the chest high chapel wall cameras in hand. That same wall now is knee high such is the extent of the erosion.

Looking at past records, (and remember the records are only as good as the observations), we have seen the first landing anywhere between late Jan, (by the foghorn) and on camera from the 11 to the 23 Feb, but that doesn’t mean to say they haven’t landed prior, only that we have observed them on these dates, so always worth an early morning view with binoculars or scope, scan the cliffs, you may be surprised!

It will be interesting to see where the shags will settle as the extending colony has been pushing them out this last few years. However as the shags are already settling into sites, I think this year they should be fine in the areas they nested in last year, but as the gannetry below the battlements grows (this is one of the real growth areas of the gannetry) the shags will ultimately lose their territory.

I expect guillemots and the odd razorbill will be in the cave, fulmars swooping and chuckling. I wonder if there will be any kittiwakes? Time to keep a watch for their return.

It’s been interesting to hear the reaction to last week’s historic news about the Bass Rock. Many, particularly locals although it was wonderful news acknowledged that it was the largest ‘rock’ colony before, but when you say; “The Bass has overtaken St Kilda” there is a dawning and a recognition, that this is very special. Although St Kilda will always be magnificent and quite a magical journey, I think we have every reason to shout and crow this year about the Bass Rock.

Craigleith – wonderful to see the cormorants, white thigh patch flashing as it wing flaps and head flicks, displaying to attract a mate. I spotted on the webcam a shag looking quite settled. Any kittiwakes on the cliffs?