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. 

Wildlife sightings 1 June 2017

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

130617 la IOM puffin

We have spotted the first few kittiwake eggs at Dunbar Harbour, nestled in the old castle ruins.

Puffins have been seen going into burrows with sandeels in their mouths this week on the Isle of May and Craigleith.

Shags, Charlie and Lola, continue to protect and defend the nest and their chicks from herring gulls. Shag chicks are getting bigger, requesting more feeding from parents.
A group of shags were also seen squabbling on the Isle of May beach last Friday. Red JID was pushing others away (Green DIP, Blue HFF, Blue ALT).

The gannets have been quiet this week, with few displays.  Our best guess is that we are only six days away from our first gannet chick.

Keep up-to-date with the action on the Seabird Centre’s webcams. Click HERE. 

Wildlife sightings 25 May 2017

What’s on camera from Discovery Centre team – Helen

Big news is that Burton (Blue BHA) and Taylor (White JII), some of our Isle of May shags, have their first chick, and still two eggs to hatch. They were both ringed as chicks in 2014. Taylor had an unsuccessful attempt at breeding last year. It’s Burton’s first attempt. So, congratulations to them both!

Charlie and Lola’s three chicks continue to grow but they are still small and tricky to see. We’ve made a plan of the shag nests on the Isle of May and a fact sheet about the different families. We continue to report sightings of ringed shags to the researchers on the May.

The cormorant chicks on Craigleith are HUGE! Nearly as big as their parents, but only three weeks old. We’ve also got puffins with chicks as we’ve started to see birds with sandeels in their mouths.

Last Thursday we had a wonderful display of bottlenose dolphins, we saw them on camera near Fidra, but they were also spotted from the telescope deck near Craigleith.

Keep up-to-date with the webcams HERE. 

Wildlife sightings 18 May 2017

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

All three eggs belonging to shags Charlie and Lola have now hatched over on the Isle of May. The first two arrived this past Sunday while the third and final egg hatched a few days later, on Wednesday. Not long after a shag chick has hatched, either parent will normally dispose of the empty shell by removing it from the nest. Seeing broken egg shells around nest sites, is always a good indication that any eggs have begun to hatch.

Cormorant chicks over on Craigleith are continuing to do well, growing a noticeable amount each day. As the chicks grow, neither parent will be able to sit on them to keep them warm. Therefore, they must gain a large fluffy layer of down for insulation to keep themselves warm.

The number of gannets sitting on eggs is still on the rise. A big thank you to Maggie for taking Francesca and I out to land on the Bass, the early start was definitely worth it!

There have also been several sightings of otters just outside the Centre. Most of them occurring from the café deck down to the right-hand side of the new harbour wall. The otters are most likely to be seen at low tide far out on the rocks, but anyone passing should keep an eye out.

Wildlife sightings 11 May 2017

Wildlife sightings from the Discovery Centre team – Erin

Our first chicks of the year that belong to a pair of cormorants on Craigleith are just over a week old and now a little bit more visible in their nest. Cormorant chicks grow very quickly and will be the size of their parents in a matter of weeks. The chicks will spend the next 6 -7 weeks in the nest before fledging, however once they leave they will continue to spend time with their parents going on family feeding trips. We have been able to spot a couple more nests with chicks across the Craigleith cormorant colony, but are now eager to spot the first shag chicks over on the May. We suspect the first chicks will come from Charlie and Lola but are continuing to find new nest sights. One pair of shags have decided to nest in a small cave close to our camera and have been appropriately named Fred and Wilma after the Flintstones.

Although some eggs are already beginning to hatch, many are still to be laid. We are just starting to see some guillemot eggs on our Fidra north camera. Unfortunately, with guillemot eggs the saying strength in numbers is very true and some of the earliest eggs spotted, didn’t make it very long. This time of the year makes it very easy for gulls to pick off any eggs but we will soon see them lasting longer as the adults start to form larger and stronger colonies, all protecting their single eggs.

Gannet eggs are appearing all over the place and with many sites close to our cameras now containing eggs, we have been able to see plenty up close. It will be a good few weeks before they start to hatch, but hopefully we will have found a few not long into June.

Some seals have been seen across Craigleith and the May, both swimming in the water and basking on the rocks. It has been a quiet few weeks with peregrine sightings but we have seen a couple over Fidra and Craigleith the last few days. Puffins have been hanging around a lot more recently and some days we have been able to observe them well into the afternoon.

Check out the action live from our webcams.