On Saturday (June 9th) we saw our first kittiwake egg of the year. This is more than a week later than 2017 (May 31st) and more than two weeks later than 2016 (May 24th). Kittiwake build their nests on steep cliff faces, most often on narrow ledges. The nest is made of seaweed, grass and soil which the kittiwake will trample in to a deep bowl shape. They will often soil on their nest which may help to cement it together as it dries. Kittiwake typically lay two eggs which take between 25 to 32 days to incubate. The chicks will then spend between five to eight weeks on their nest before fledging.
Kittiwake gathering seaweed
Many razorbill and guillemot are also now on eggs making it much easier to see them. The majority of shag nests contain chicks averaging between three and four weeks old. Shag constantly add to their nests, bringing in new vegetation to add to the nest surface along with anything else they can find.
Shag gathering fresh nesting material
Puffin have been spotted most days swimming near the foghorn, below the lighthouse or near to Foxes Rattle. Gannet, which nest out on Big Scare, can often be seen gliding low over the water as they pass by the headland and fulmar, which nest just of the reserve, spend a lot of time soaring around near the clifftops. Black guillemot are often spotted on the water around Lagvag or near the foghorn whereas Manx shearwater are more frequently seen flying low, almost skimming the sea, further out.
Other recent seabird sightings include a little gull, herring gull, great black-backed gull and lesser black-backed gull. Cormorant have also been seen hanging out on the rocks among the shag and eider and oystercatcher have been seen flying near the cliffs.
Meadow pipit and rock pipit are familiar sights as they display around the reserve by singing loudly whilst slowly parachuting down to the ground. Swift, swallow and house martin also fill the sky as they pick off insects in the air.
Both whitethroat and stonechat are often seen hanging around the gorse bushes whilst goldfinch frequently visit the feeders at the visitor centre. Linnet are often seen around the walled garden or searching for seeds among the heather and rough grassland. Pied wagtail can generally be found around the lighthouse and two male blackbird have been spending a lot of time around the willow bushes or walled garden area. Wheatear are most commonly found along the south and west facing clifftops.
Peregrine falcon, kestrel and buzzard have all been seen hunting around the reserve recently. A fox was captured on a trail camera this week and brown hare, roe deer, harbour porpoise, grey seal and harbour seal add to the mammal sightings along with field vole and house mouse.
The rich and diverse mix of wildflower that are currently in bloom are attracting a wide mix of bees (including white-tailed, buff-tailed and red-tailed bumblebee), butterflies (including common blue, small heath, small pearl bordered fritillary, wall brown, green-veined white and small white) and other insects including the very distinctive rose chafer beetle.
Rose chafer beetle
Recent moth trapping sessions have returned fox moth, cinnabar, silver Y, small square spot, map winged swift, antler moth, tawny shears, ruby tiger, white ermine, buff ermine, middle barred minor, marbled minor, spectacle moth, marbled coronet and angle shades. The emperor moth eggs that were laid whilst in the trap last month have now hatched and the caterpillar are growing fast on a diet of hawthorn and heather.
Emperor moth caterpillars
All photos by Rob Conn
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