I was at Fowlsheugh on Sunday, leading our penultimate guided walk, two takers and our youngest participant so far..13th month old Rosie. I was a bit worried driving down, as the season was very early this year and I was a bit concerned there would be nothing to look at. However, as I got out of my car, I heard the usual racket of the kittiwakes, some passing sandwich terns and a couple of screaming peregrines, so I knew it was going to be a good day.
There were still plenty of young kittiwakes around, many flying around the cliffs and no sign of any more dead ones at the bottom of the cliffs, so the chicks that survived the storms in early July appeared to have thrived. There were also quite a few fat and fluffy fulmar chicks.
But the highlight of the day was thirty puffins bobbing in the water near the end of our trail, next to our interpretation board about puffins. Neither of my two companions had seen puffins before, nor their daughter, young Rosie. I was a bit envious of her, I wish I had seen puffins at 13th months old. However, she didn't seem that impressed, she was actually asleep by this time!
Our last guided walk is on Wednesday...every walk so far has included puffin sightings..so what are you waiting for?.....
Hi...lots to update you with. I have been to the reserve a couple of times since I last "blogged". Myself and other staff and volunteers were at Fowlsheugh on 30th June to host a group of scouts from Falkirk, who were on a summer camping week in the area. It was perhaps one of the hottest days of the year and we had a great walk along the cliffs. Of course, many of them saw a puffin for the first time in their lives and it was good to see them excited about this. It was probably peak guillemot time, with many large chicks on the cliffs and on the water. The ones on the water had obviously taken that great leap from the cliffs to the sea. The adult male guillemot then takes the chick far offshore so it can finish its development away from the threats from predators it faces on the cliffs. Kittiwake chicks were also all doing well. We also saw several Common blue butterflies and a female eider duck with a brood of four ducklings. (The week before I had seen another eider with eight tiny ducklings)
So all looking rosy still. However, my last visit on Wednesday 7th July was a slighty different story. I was at the reserve to take a look again at my kittiwake nests, to check the progress of the chicks. It was a slighly distressing sight to say the least...many large dead chicks at the bottom of the cliffs and in the nests. We are guessing the bad storms we had over the weekend 3/4th July has caused this. The winds were so strong that I expect many chicks were blown from their nests and others just couldn't cope with the cold and wet. I also have a sneaky suspision that food supply may also be a problem as several of the surviving chicks look very lethargic in the nest. On the postitive side, although we have lost many chicks, there are still good numbers in nests. My fingers are crossed that the weather remains good and there is still plenty of food to allow these birds to fledge successfully. It will be towards the end of next week that these chicks are ready to fly. The guillemots are nearly all gone for the season, as are the razorbills. We searched and searched for our first fulmar chick, but didn't see any.