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 27 July


We’ve had a very busy week here in the Discovery Centre with the school holidays in full swing. Luckily there is lots going on so it has been a great time to come!

Our little fulmar chick that was mentioned previously has been seen quite often now and is actually fairly large. It is still difficult to spot it and we can’t see any others yet but they must be there somewhere. Our puffins are a little bit more scarce but are actually doing better than we expected, usually they would be leaving at this time of year. They did arrive late so it is possible they may stay late as well.

With most of seabird breeding season coming to an end we have been seeing a lot more of our peregrine falcon on Fidra who can now reclaim her old perches from all the nesting seabirds. Peregrines are the only birds we have who do not appear to be breeding anywhere that we know of.

The sunny weather has again resulted in a fair few grey seals being spotted on Craigleith. Often they haul out and sunbathe on the rocks quite near to our cameras. We have around 100 seals in this area and it is always nice to seem on camera.

Our shags all seem to be fledged with only a few juveniles hanging around on the beaches at the moment. Most of the adults seem to be off and the nesting sites are now empty until next year. The same cannot be said of the gannets however who are still nesting. Unfortunately it hasn’t been a very good year for them but there are still a lot of chicks visible from our cameras. It will still be a good few weeks until they fledge and we get to watch them leap from their perches and swoop into the sea.

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

Wildlife Sightings 20 July

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


Helen managed to spot our first fulmar chick this week on Fidra which means that all of our seabirds have chicks!

It is still early in the season but researchers on the Isle of May have said that some of the species being monitored have had excellent breeding success this year which is good news.

Our islands are still very full at the moment. The Bass Rock is full of chicks, with some being absolutely huge and others still very small. The weather conditions have been good for the gannets this week and many have been coming very close to the seabird centre and catching the light as they dive into the water.

The puffins appear to be doing well, they don’t enjoy the strong winds as much as the gannets but have been “sunbathing” on rocky outcrops near their burrows lately. None appear to have headed off yet but puffins do tend to arrive and leave very suddenly so there won’t much time left to see them if you haven’t already!

Our cormorants on Craigleith also appear to be flourishing. Most of the juveniles have left their nests at this point and have all grouped together on top of the cliff. This is common behaviour with our shags on the Isle of May doing a similar thing. The juveniles tend to flock together for a few weeks before becoming independent.

As the breeding season slows down we have been seeing more and more of our peregrine falcons who are returning to their favourite, seabird free, perches all around Fidra. They themselves are not breeding as the females are both too young  to have chicks yet.

We don’t have that much of summer left but we are still running all our interactive shows throughout August along with “Shark Week” from the 23rd-30th of July so there is plenty left to do!


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 6 July

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


Sadly, the recent spell of bad weather has meant a decline in the number of successful gannet hatchings this year. There are still plenty of chicks visible from the Discovery Centre Cameras (upper right image) but it does look like being a less successful year than previously. On the bright side, though the weather has cleared up and there are still a huge number of chicks yet to hatch so the island will have plenty to offer for months to come.

On Fidra, our peregrine has been spotted a few times. Peregrines do not enjoy the wet weather as it makes their feathers too wet for hunting and so it has mainly been seen snuggled against the cliff face trying to stay dry.

The Isle of May continues to display a variety of seabirds. Chicks are visible for guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and shags. The only one left to hatch is the fulmar which we are still waiting for. Those who follow our shag families will pleased to know they are doing very well with many chicks starting to fly short distances and forage on their own before returning to their nests. Our final shag pair, nicknamed Fred and Wilma (after the Flintstones) do in fact have at least two chicks. Due to the position of the next they managed to hide the chicks from the camera for a while but there are at least two large chicks who appear to be doing well. (see upper left image)

It has been almost two weeks since our last dolphin sighting however our boat staff reported seeing them yesterday morning between the Bass Rock and Craigleith. It is good to know they are still around and, as the weather improves, it makes it a bit easier to spot them against the waves. Hopefully we will see more as it ties in nicely with this year’s summer shows which focus on dolphins and marine pollution.

We offer shows almost every day throughout summer and are having a special “Shark Week” event later this month so it’s definitely worth visiting the Discovery Centre!

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