Saturday, 20 May 2017

A local resident reported seeing someone flying a drone along beside the cliffs at Petticowick on Thursday night. It was causing great disturbance to the nesting seabirds on the cliffs in the area. I hope that the pilot was not aware that he was breaking the law on two counts - firstly by flying the drone over NTS land without our permission, and secondly by causing disturbance to nesting birds.

With drones now being readily available at a resonable price on the High Street..., their use over St Abb's Head and other NTS land by uninformed individuals is becoming more common. This is why the NTS has produced a policy concerned the flying of drones on or over our land. 
St Abb's Head is a place where people come to get away from it all and enjoy nature in the raw, so we are very reluctant to bring too many man-made items, like signs, onto the reserve. We have tried hard to spread the NTS policy on drones via Social Media, but it is apparent that the message just isn't getting out to all the right people, so we are, reluctantly, having to put up signs in order to make sure that drone owners are informed about our policy and the law.

We have not gone down the line of a blanket ban, as others have, because there is no doubt that drone images are spectacular, giving a totally different perspective. Also, there are ways that drones might be useful in our conservation management of the property. However, the reserve is a no drone zone during the bird nesting season, and outwith this we require poeple to get permission from the Property Manager (ie me) first. In this way we can ensure that we keep both our wildlife and our visitors safe and free from disturbance.

Here's a copy of the signs that will be going up this weekend. Please help us protect our nesting birds from disturbance by sharing this. Thank you. Liza.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Up on the cliffs this morning checking out the seabirds. I haven't spotted our first kittiwake egg yet, but there's certainly lots going on up there. As it wasn't too windy, I took a few short videos with my camera just to give you the gist. Please excuse the camera shake! Liza.

The kittiwakes are busy nest building.  They collect mud and grass from wet flush areas on the sea braes, and take this back to the nest site (being guarded by their partner) a beak full at a time.  We have had hardly any rain since the start of April (just 16.5mm to be precise) so there is a bit of a shortage of wet flushes.  Let's hope this doesn't effect their breeding success.

Some kittiwakes are lucky enough to secure nest sites where there is the remains of a nest from previous years that just needs adding to.  But some have to start virtually from scratch.  One bird brings back the nesting material, and then the other stamps it into place and then shapes it into a cup shape by pressing its chest against the edges.  Its mucky work as you can see!

There are not so many gannets on and around Foul Carr now - but a few remain sitting on the stack and there are still a number prospecting, as you can see.  We are waiting with baited breath to see if any of them start bringing in nesting material (one pair did last year, but nothing came of it).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A group of students from Eyemouth High School came and had a session with our Archaeologist, Daniel Rhodes, at the Ebba Centre yesterday as part of the the School Enrichment Programme that we here at St Abb's Head are taking part in. They were dicsovering what archaeology is all about, and why its important, and got to try out some hands on activities themselves. Next week, Daniel will take them out and about on the reserve to discover more on the ground. Liza.

Bob, the skeleton, helped the kids discover more about the detective work required when discovering archaeological finds.
The amazing uses that a deer carcass can be put to - nothing wasted!
Pottery analysis - the kids had a go at taking all the measurements that are needed to try and work out the age and uses of shards of pottery found in digs.
Learning about how looking at maps going back through the ages can tell you a lots about the history of an area.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Gannets have arrived back at St Abb's Head this year, and they look like they might be settling down to stay. As far as we know there are no breeding records for Gannets here, so there was great excitement last year when about 8 birds began to sit around on Foul Carr, near to the lighthouse, with one pair even starting to build a nest. Nothing came of this nesting attempt, but after visiting Foul Carr yesterday, following a tip-off from a volunteer, I was surprised to find at least 52 birds sat on top of the stack with more circling around the air above. Many of the pairs were performing courtship behaviours, like the pair you can see in the first picture with their bills raised to the sky. Some of the other residents of the stack were not entirely happy with their new neighbours, the Herring Gull in the second picture repeatedly dive-bombed the offending Gannet until it was finally driven off.  Only time will tell if they will be here to stay, we will keep you posted on further developments.  Lizy

Gannets, Morus bassanus, displaying on top of Foul Carr, surrounded by Guillemots, Uria aalge

Gannet, Morus bassanus, being attacked by a Herring Gull, Larus argentatus

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The stacks and cliffs are full of seabirds and looking great in the sunshine! Lizy

View north from Nunnery Point

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Whilst doing a bird survey around the Mire Loch early yesterday morning I was delighted to spot that one of our Coot nests has hatched, producing at least 10 tiny chicks. At this young age they are relatively easy to spot with binoculars in amongst the reeds, due to their naked red heads, and the fuzzy mane of golden feathers around their neck. They have mainly been staying close to the boat house, near their nest, so keep a look out of you are on the opposite bank.  Lizy

Adult Coot with 8 small chicks

Monday, 1 May 2017

The National Trust for Scotland'd spring fundraising campaign has just been launched, and this year it is focusing on the Natural Heritage side of the Trust’s work. Please check out this link to learn more about some of the work we do to manage Scotland's amazing natural heritage, and think about supporting us by donating or becoming a member. Please Help Us Work With Nature. Thank you. Liza.