Wildlife sightings 27 April 2017

What can be seen on camera from the Discovery Centre team – Helen

Eggs abound! We spotted our first gannet eggs this week! We already have cormorant and shag eggs on camera. Puffins have been around a fair bit and we’ve seen activity in the puffin burrow on the ‘burrowcam’. Some new shags have moved in on the Isle of May cliff so it’s getting quite busy there. As many are ringed, we get to recognise them easily. As well as Charlie and Lola we saw last year, we also have Sid and Nancy, Burton and Taylor – new birds nesting for the first time – and the ‘des res’ nest in the cave, occupied again after a few years of being empty. We have wonderful views of razorbills just below the cameras on Craigleith, guillemots cover the stacks on the Isle of May. Hundreds of eiders have been bobbing around near Craigleith, and a few seals were spotted chilling out, too.

Keep up-to-date with the Scottish Seabird Centre cameras HERE.

Wildlife sightings 21 April 2017

Seabird sightings from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

We are getting great views on all the islands just now. We have seen that Charlie and Lola, our Isle of May shag pair, have laid at least one more egg. We’ve also heard from the Isle of May staff that they have seen puffin eggs for the first time this year. Our puffins on Craigleith are still proving inconsistent with them appearing and disappearing random. Elsewhere on Craigleith though there are a vast number of cormorant eggs which is good to see.

We have found a new peregrine falcon lately which was a bit of a surprise. We don’t know where it has come from but it is significantly darker than most peregrines and has been seen on both Craigleith and Fidra. We are keeping a close eye on this bird along with our resident peregrines who we are still seeing regularly.

Many people follow the progress of our kittiwakes, particularly those at Dunbar harbour who are still fairly scarce. The ones on Fidra and Isle of May look to be doing well, successfully competing for space amongst the fulmars, guillemots and razorbills for space on the narrow rock ledges. The guillemots are really gathering in number lately and remaining in once place all day, usually a sign that they are breeding.

Gannets are still thriving but we have not found any eggs yet. It is very possible that some have been laid but we are struggling to find them. Hopefully our second operational camera will make this egg hunt a bit easier!

Keep up-to-date with the action online HERE.

Wildlife sightings 13 April 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Scott

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It’s been another busy week as the season begins in earnest. Our long-time resident shags from the Isle of May, Charlie and Lola have been seen with at least one egg. They were our first parents last year and raised three healthy chicks so we will see how they fare this time. We have a new shag pair as well, Burton and Taylor (after Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) whom we are watching with interest as they have picked a prime site very near our camera. The razorbills and guillemots have gathered in number but don’t appear to have eggs yet.

Our cormorants on Craigleith also have eggs and are doing very well. The puffins are proving elusive today but have been around most of the week. This is common for puffins as they often disappear for several hours or days at a time before returning again. Our Craigleith peregrine has also been very prominent lately which is an unusual, but very welcome sighting.

We haven’t seen any gannet eggs yet but we are keeping a lookout, it shouldn’t be very long now. The Bass is very full and has taken on its familiar white colour. The gannets are even taking advantage of the wind and are flying very close to the Centre which is providing excellent views for those on the café deck.

A few visitors last week sighted some dolphins round the Bass Rock as well. Hopefully they make a few more appearances!

Wildlife sightings 6 April 2017

Wildlife sightings from the Seabird Centre’s Discovery Centre team – Alex

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The gannets continue to grow in number on the Bass Rock and this will continue until we have the full 150,000 gannets. The first egg last year was 15 April. We have had some ‘reports’ of eggs but nothing confirmed so, gannet egg hunt for Easter weekend is still planned. We are seeing lots of courtship behaviour and mating so we don’t think it will be too long before the first egg is spotted! It is not just the cameras where we have been seeing gannets, but also just offshore from the Centre. Over the past few mornings gannets have been seen plunge diving just off the flood wall and harbour.

Puffins have come and gone quite quickly but they will be back on the islands as soon as they feel more settled. It happens every year when they return only for a few short days before heading back out to sea again. We still see a few rafting on the water off Craigleith but we are seeing very few on the actual islands.

Their relatives, the guillemots and razorbills, are being very active by comparison with lots of billing and preening on Fidra and Craigleith. We have also seen quite a few bridled guillemots on Fidra this past week. Despite the white streak from the eye and ‘monocle’ appearance, they are not a separate species but instead simply a different form of the common guillemot.

The peregrines continue to make appearances on Fidra, Bass Rock and Craigleith. We have been seeing some mating behaviour on Fidra this past week although it is not sure whether this is with the adult female or the juvenile daughter. We saw similar behaviour last year but, as we are unaware of where they nest, we never discovered whether any eggs were produced.

Check out the wildlife action on our website HERE. 

Wildlife sightings 30 March 2017

Notes from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

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The Bass Rock is becoming whiter and whiter as the days go on with more gannets returning to the rock to prepare their nests ahead of the breeding season. Our first egg last year was early April so good timing with Easter this year where visitors and staff can enjoy their own little egg hunt on the cameras. A peregrine was also spotted on the lighthouse this past week though it shortly took off.

One of the big sightings of the week however must be the return of puffins!!! On Friday, they were seen on all three puffin colonies, Fidra, Craigleith and Isle of May. Sadly, they have headed back out to sea today so no puffin sightings until they return again. On Friday, a very young peregrine was spotted on Fidra cliff where it perched for the majority of the day before taking off for a hunt. It hasn’t been seen since unfortunately but hopefully it will make another appearance soon. Our islands seem to be taken over by peregrines recently!

The shags and cormorants continue their courtship and nest building and we have also seen a lot of preening behaviour in the guillemots and razorbills, especially a razorbill pair on the Craig beach camera.

Seals have returned to the beach on the May with a small group of approx. six young grey seals resting on the rocky beach. We had been seeing one young seal these past few weeks but, today, she has a few friends with her for company.

Wildlife sightings 23 March 2017

What’s on the Seabird Centre cameras from the Discovery Centre team – Alex

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The gannets are back! There are still lots of gannets to return, however, there is a lot of courtship behaviour to be seen on the cameras such as beak fencing and bowing (territorial).

The peregrines continue to be spotted on Fidra and Craigleith but no sightings of the peregrines on the Bass as of yet. Fulmars, cormorants and shags continue with their own nest preparations especially on the Isle of May. The ringed shags have been very busy arguing with some pair swapping and intruders on ‘Charlie’s’ nest this past week.

Guillemots and a few razorbills are becoming more established on some of the other islands such as Fidra and Craigleith, while the main stack on the Isle of May is full!

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

Wildlife sightings 16 March 2017

Wildlife sightings from the Discovery Centre cameras – Helen

Last week we had wonderful displays from the male cormorants flicking their wings and showing their white flanks. It’s all paid off, as they now have females joining them on the nests!

On Fidra and Isle of May the shags are nest-building and squabbling, and treating us to some beautiful courtship as they move their heads in unison. The main fish tank is looking great with its new seaweed. And we have a ‘teenage’ seal on Isle of May, sunbathing on its back – that’s the life!

Puffins– Maggie

Puffins are back! A few were spotted offshore from Craigleith. On the same day, a similar story on the seas around the May. When will the first one be spotted on land? Another recent return are the lesser black backed gulls near the yachting pond. Among the turnstones and redshanks, I spotted a couple of dunlin and the black redstart was still around last week. 40+ eider’s rafting close by their unmistakable ooOOOoo filling the air. Such an evocative sound.

On the Bass last week thousands of gannets, several dozen sitting around the chapel area. It’s always interesting to see which birds, particularly in the study areas, have returned. No sign on any darvick birds but couple of fresh deposits of seaweed as the rebuilding of nests begins.  They were all very jumpy. By Easter week the first egg may appear! It is hoped this year that some early season study may be undertaken. Will keep you updated on that. Interestingly no fulmars on site, a few swooping around but from a visit a few weeks ago, where there were several dozen sitting; it does show nothing is really settled at this time of year, but soon!

I would expect we will hear of first shag eggs before long. When out on the May a couple of weeks ago, it was interesting, some mornings none were on site but by afternoon token nesting material was being brought in. By the time I left they were in attendance for most of the day. Of course, all breakfast viewing on the webcams!  One incredibly calm morning as I headed to the cliff area the AAhaar of the guillemots just reverberated around. How can you not smile! It is such a summer sound. I headed over to the cliffs to just sit and observe a while. Thousands of birds tightly packed on every ledge, razorbills in their hundreds perched on the nooks and crannies. As I sat lower down by one of he hides if I stretched out my arm I probably could have touched the dozens of razorbills that flew directly over my head. What a magical way to start the day!  The next morning only a handful of both species.  A couple of days later I heard kittiwakes.  Apart from the odd lazy young seal that just slept all day, the salt burnt vegetation is perfect camouflage for the hundreds of rabbits. As you walk along suddenly a sea of white flashes as little bob tails scatter. As green shoots push through and puffins return, the season is on the cusp.