Tuesday, 28 June 2016

There has been a project going on for a number of years now, putting colour rings on shags in the Firth of Forth. This is to make the individual birds recognisable from afar by the colour of the ring and the three letter code on it. Such projects help to uncover more information about the brirds breeding biology. When me and Lizy were out on our boat monitoring our seabirds from the sea the other day, we spotted these two colour ringed birds. When we got back to dry land ...I contacted colleagues from the Centre of Ecology and Hryrology on the Isle of May to report our sightings. Just found out this morning that the bird with the green ring was ringed as a chick on Fidra in July 2013, and has also been spotted in Berwick; and the one with the red ring was ringed on Inchmickery in June 2014. No doubt they are prospecting for nest sites. Just goes to show that everything is interlinked. Liza.

Monday, 27 June 2016

I'm pleased to say that the weather was kind to us on Friday for our second Seabird Cruise. In fact, Mother Nature was exceedingly kind - dolphins (jumping out of the water right by the boat), porpoises, seals, and all the seabirds you might want to see, including guillemot jumplings on the water and 7 puffins (most probably failed bredders fro the Isle of May or the Farne Islands, as we have not seen one on land at St Abb's Head this year). Totally fabulous! That's it for the cruises this year - but look out for them being advertised in spring next year. Liza.

Friday, 24 June 2016

I have been trying to catch up with some paperwork in the office this afternoon. I was working away quietly when I heard some screaming outside - I knew the sound to be that which a rabbit makes when being killed by a stoat, so rushed out with my camera. Pretty gruesome - but amazing to witness the stoat kill and drag away two baby rabbits and then be chased away by an adult rabbit. At one point the stoat was litarally about a foot away from my foot. Must be a mother provisioning her kits. Who needs Springwatch?! Liza.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Lots of chicks of all shapes and sizes about on the cliffs at the moment, the first guillemot chicks were seen jumping off the cliffs ealier in the week and conditions today and tomorrow eveing look absolutley perfect for jumplings and watchers alike. Liza.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

If you've been to St Abb's Head in the last couple of days you might have noticed a lot of people with binoculars hanging around the all ability path.  They've been coming to see the very attractive Woodchat Shrike which has appeared just off the reserve.  Normally breeding in Southern Europe this bird is a rare sight in these parts.  It was still around this morning, if you want to try and spot it before it disappears, then have a look around the area of felled trees on the way to the Starney viewpoint, and along the wall behind the felled area and the horse field.  Lizy.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The sun came out this afternoon and its been beautiful up on the cliffs. Still a fair see running, though, and that can spell disaster for our breeding shags at this time of year. They often nest low down in the colony, close to the sea, and the chicks are downy and therefore not waterproof for up to 8 weeks, longer than any of the other seabirds. This means that they and their nests can be washed off the rocks and the chicks die. This nest near Skelly Rocks was very close to being washed away at high water, and all they could could do is sit tight. Liza.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Here's a few shots of those hardy Coldingham Guides out foraging in the fog! Liza.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Last night Coldingham Guides braved the somewhat inclement weather (fog and drizzle) and came out to the reserve for a visit. We had planned to look at the seabirds, but you couldn't see the cliffs lets alone the birds on them, so we took a turn around the Mire Loch, looking at the wildlife there, in particular discovering more about foraging for their "I Will Survive" badge. Being a nature reserve, we didn't pick anything of course, but I think a good time was had by all. Some of the members of the party were even able to check the progress of the rees they'd planted a few years back in celebration of the Queen's Jubilee. Liza.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Hurray - the fog lifted just enough for myself and Jill to be able to get out and monitor our auks (guillemots and razorbills) this afternoon. Very pleased, as now is the time when all sorts of things are happening. For instance, the guillemot chicks could start to jump any day now, and the kittiwake should be hatching their first chicks. Lo and behold - there were quite a few kittiwake chicks about today, no doubt they have been hatching out under cover of fog over the last couple of days! Forgot to take my camera out with me, but here's a photo of a newly hatched chick from a previous year. Liza.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Mute Swans on the Mire Loch have managed to successfully hatch one cygnet this year. There appear to be about 4 unhatched eggs still in the nest, but this is still a lot better than last year, when all of the eggs failed to hatch. Also spotted was a Moorhen with two chicks. Lizy.

Mute Swan and cygnet Cygnus olor

Monday, 13 June 2016

Its a messy old life for guillemots when its wet - the guano that has solidified on the cliffs, building up layer on layer all season, turns back to liquid, and they get covered in it. Its got to make flying difficult, and their not very good at it in the first place!. Liza.

Am pleased to see that this morning the total nuymber of trees planted due to my using Ecosia as a search engine rather than one of the more famous ones is 200. When I started using it they had planted 3 million trees, now its nearer 4.5 million. Why not give it a try? Liza.


STOP PRESS - two places have become available on this Friday's boat trip. Please call the Rangers' Office on (018907) 71443 if you are interested.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

For anyone interested in seeing the Northern Brown Argus, the first two individuals were seen here on Thursday, right next to the spillway on the Mire Dam. Last year they stayed on the wing until the first week in August, so make sure you and come and visit us before then if you want to get a look at these subtle but striking butterflies. Lizy.

Northern Brown Argus Aricia artaxerxes

Thursday, 9 June 2016

With the weather getting better and more folk coming out to spend time on the reserve - please take care when you are out there - see link below. This is especially importnat in light of the fact that we have no lifeboat at St Abbs at the moment, although we only have about a month to wait until the new Independent Lifeboat will up and running at St Abbs. Liza.


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

For the last couple of days a team from Scottish Natural Heritage have been monitoring the breeding seabirds in the area. Their data (along with our data from our annual counts) will feed into the National Seabird Count project. The aim is to get a full count of all breeding seabirds in the UK. The last time this was back in 2000 - it'll be interesting to see how the counts differ. After a tricky start yesterday with the cliffs shrouded in haar; today the weather was ideal, no wind and a calm sea so that counts could take place from the cliff tops and from the sea. Liza.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Its definitely nature red in tooth and claw out there on the cliffs. The crows and jackdaws are scaring the kittiwakes off their eggs so that they can feed on them whilst still in the nest. The herring gulls are also stealing kittiwake plus guillemot eggs - some are strewn around their nests, and some are up on the cliff tops. And there is predation of some of the adults too. Peregrines take some of the kittiwakes, and in the last few days the remains of a fulmar have been left on the cliff top near Nunnery Point, most probably predated by a fox. Liza.


Sunday, 5 June 2016

There have been a several sightings of Painted Lady butterflies here in the last few days. I managed to photograph this one this morning, feeding on Thrift. Lizy

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

Friday, 3 June 2016

The sea was looking a gorgeous colour today, but it was a tad rough as shown by this whirlpool of white water at the bottom of Foul Carr. Liza.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

If you're thinking about visiting St Abb's Head today make sure to spend a few extra minutes in the car park. We spotted this bat flying around right next to the parking machine. Very strange in bright sunshine at 10 o'clock in the morning, but an excellent chance to get a good look at a creature normally only seen at night. Also listen out for the Spotted Flycatcher singing in the trees around the car park. Lizy

Bat above car park

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Last week we had a report from a visitor who thought they had seen Piri piri burr on the reserve. When I went to check it out I found that unfortunately they were right. This is an invasive plant from New Zealand which is incredibly good at reproducing. It produces lots of little burrs which attach to clothing and the coats of animals and so get spread around this way, and it also spreads by means of runners, like strawberries. After taking advice from our neighbours down... on Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (who have been fighting the good fight against piri piri for a number of years), yesterday I went out and dug it out, bringing every bit of the plant back in sealed plastic bags. We will keep a wary eye on the area to make sure that it does't come back. Thanks to our eagle eyed visitor, I hope we have stopped it in its tracks. But please do let us know if you think you spot some anywhere else on the reserve. Thanks. Liza.