Monday, 11 July 2011

The Best of British Marine Wildlife...........

Well I promised you smaller species in my next posting and I was pretty much talking drivel as instead I had some encounters with the largest British species there is!! The usual daily whale watch trips along with a five day Shark charter made for some of the best wildlife encounters and experiences of my life! A decent well needed spell of weather made a big difference in the sightings as well as giving the wildlife some well earned sunshine, heat and energy.

C Dolphin associating with boat....

on the 6th June I went for an evening trip south to Grasspoint to look for uplands birds and got Short Eared Owl and a fly over from a White Tailed Eagle while I was driving. 2 Woodcocks and a Stonechat.

Sunset at Cairns of Coll

Ringtail harrier

BBQ and Cricket at Calgary beach with all the SLS crew. A nice evening for it and the Sandmartins were showing well tagging insects around the sandy dunes. there was female Eiders and ducklins out on the water and we had a great game of Cricket but the only problem was that I lost to Craig (a Scotsman!)



On the 9th of the month I headed down to Craignure golf club for a quick 9 holes while enjoying the suplime wildlife they have on offer surrounding the course. So while preparing for my game I always bring my golf bag and my camera bag! my personal course record on the course as I was dialled in and shot 1 over on a tricky little track. White Tailed Eagle admiring my birdies from the trees. Also Artic Tern, Ringed Plover and Willow Warbler chicks nearly fledged. Got shouted off by some reetard for taking pictures of the warblers cos he thought I was going after the eagle nest when I was I was no where near it so I told him to do one. The fella was on the whale watch trip the next day which was a bit awkward haha.

Great Skua!

Artic Skua

Saturday 11th and a big day ahead of me. Started with a seven hour whale watch. Headed off in decent promising conditions as we headed out of the harbour and I had that feeling it was going to a wildlife filled day! Everyone on board was not disapointed as in the space of a 90 minute period we got 2 Minke Whales, 3 Basking Shark and a big pod of Short Beaked Common Dolphin! Golden Eagle on the way back to add to a great trip. As soon as we arrived back at the pontoon we had a staff camping night out on Coll so it was straight back out on the boat again to make the 2 hour journey to the Cairns of Coll. We picked up C Dolphin again on the way over and they were bow riding with us for a good half hour as we sat on the bow a meter from them getting soaked by there splash! unreal....Good night on the Cairns with a spot of beach wrestling and a 3am swim with the seals! The highlight has to be drunken chief guide Ruth falling asleep on the rocks and sliding elegantly into the sea!

Common Sandpiper, Ardmore

Common Dolphin approaching the boat....

14th of the month and a WW with danny naisbitt on board as he was up for the week which was great. He spotted the first Minke whale on the trip and won the mars bar! More Common Dolphins on the trip and also Golden Eagle, Storm Petrel, Great Skua and Peregrine back at Tobermory.

good bit of Air time!


A trip to the North West of the island with Danny and Craignure first of all to see and attempt to photograph the sand martins and then a game of cricket where he beat me ....just. We moved on round the island and picked up a dog Otter in feeding mode showing really well and managed to get some nice pics and a HD video that you can see in one of my previous posts.

Basking Shark


Sand eel in Bill

Ardnamurchan Point sun set to the north

Off on the Saturday and me and Danny headed down to Isle of Iona for a nice day out. After a game of travel Cricketers alphabet game with Danny coming up with all these Pakistani names that ive never heard of convincing me that there real! When we landed on Iona from the ferry we watched all the weird religious people take a sharp right and head for the shitty abbey but we were more interested in seeing Corncrake! we had a wonder with no success but I remembered that Craig Shaw got good success near the crappy abbey itself so we pottered in the entrance with out paying the fee because Atheists get in for I've heard! We got plenty of calling Corncrakes but no sightings but it was soon turned into dynamite when a pod of 20 plus Bottlenose Dolphins cruised down the Sound of Iona while Cornie calling in the background.

Stinkie Minke!

Otter feeding

On it! Shark charter for 5 days and an early start down at the pontoon at 6am. Got a great sunrise photo of the Tobermory harbour. Jimbo and I on board as well as 3 experienced wildlife divers with great shark knowledge. flat calm conditions close to perfect and we kicked off with an Artic Skua dark morph up the sound of Mull. Headed over to the Coll area and picked up 4 Minke whales in the area! just afterwards I got locked onto Dolphin Splash in the distance and ended up having 200 plus Short Beaked Common Dolphin around the boat!
We headed south to look for Sharks as after all thats what we were out here for.
No sharks to be seen but it was not a disappointment with the great encounters with the other marine species.
We anchored up on the Gunna sound and took all the camping gear on the RIB to load onto the beach and after a successful landing we prepared to feed the boat back to deeper water off the beach and back to Sula Crion I reached down with the orr to push the boat out and somat happened and I lost my flaming balance and went head first into the sea like a diving Shag! I struggled back onto the RIB in shock while the three divers were in stitches! We arrived back to Sula Crion and I was looking like a drowned Weasel and Jimbo got a big shock when he seen me dripping wet. I had quite a few layers of cloths on and we had to hang all of them on the railing of Crion to dry.
29 mintes later when I reached over the side of the boat my glasses slipped from my head and in slow motion fell into the sea sinking to the bottom of the sea bed just like jack did at the end of titanic when he was dead. The guys on board quoted to saying I was "a walking disaster"...More to follow as after we had tea Jimbo handed me the grill to clean overboard and as I turned it upside down the handle then dropped off and plopped into the sea! I was getting slated from all angles and deservedly so! I was defending my self by saying "it was just a bad spell, we all have them"

Eurasian otter....

We landed on Gunna Sound and after setting up camp I had a quick scan around the island and picked up some Little Terns in flight and also a Med gull on the other side of the island. Gunna is a lovely place with white sandy beaches and rocky out crops.
After a night camping on the beach on a 45 degree slope we headed back to Crion for Breakfast before a full day scanning for sharks. After a nice fry up the main focus for the morning was to fish out my sun glasses and grill handle and it was a good job we had 3 divers on board to get amongst the sea bed. After Andy one of the divers spent a good 40 minutes scanning the sea bed he popped up with great success retrieving both items! Thanks very much Andy! Also thank you for lending me clothes from when I went overboard and all mine were dripping wet hanging off Crion.

Finnphort with Bottlenose Dolphin by ferry

We headed over to the west of Coll to scan for Sharks and on the way over there I was up spotting beasties on top of the wheel house and I tried to spit off the side of the boat and the wind took it and it flew straight back and landed on one of the divers heads with out them realising! Hopefully they wont read this blog to find out but with GWW getting big through out the UK they could well end up seeing it!
When we got round west of Coll I picked up a Fin in the distance.....Shark!! locked! we headed over and there ended up been a fin count of 41 Sharks around the boat at one point! All the divers jumped in in their fancy wet suits and I just dived in in Skin mode and enjoyed an amazing experience swimming with Basking Sharks a meter from me! While I was back on the boat and assisting the other divers a Shark breached 100 yards from the boat getting good air time and it was an amazing spectacle and what a day! headed back to Tobermory that evening and got 3 minke whales on the way back in flat calm conditions. I was knackered and ended up sleeping for the last couple of hours on the boat after an amazing day. Enjoyed my own bed for the night then back out on the shark charter the next morning bright and early.

Sunrise at Tobermory harbour

Back on the Shark charter the next day with a bit rougher conditions for it to make it a bit more challanging on the shark spotting front! Headed for shelter south of Muck to do some fishing and watch the breeding sea birds there. We headed over to Carins of Coll where we got a GN Diver close to the boat. We anchored up and camped on the beach there and enjoyed watching the terns mobbing the GBB Gulls and also the gull chicks as well. I seen a Brown Rat on the island for the second time which does not bode well for the nesting birds! Maybe Sula could do a job their when we visit on a lunch time trip!

Minke by Coll

The next Morning on the Thursday and a refreshing swim with the seals first thing was a great start to the day! We covered the west side of Coll again and got a few Sharks out there. The main talking point of the day was a huge splash that happened twice that I picked up right out to the west very distant, it had to be bigger than a breaching Basking Shark so I was thinking possible breaching Minke or even Humpback whale that can pass through this way on route to Icelandic waters.

Minke arching back goin down for a deep dive

Common Dolphin seen a number of times throughout June....

half a second too late from a locked photo!!


On Saturday 25th it was a seven hour whale watch with 40 plus Common Dolphins bow riding on the boat and I managed to get some more nice photos of them. 3 Storm Petrels was another big highlight. A guy on the trip still didnt seem to appritiate anything after all the dolphin activity and had a stony face all day and just stood there looking like a cardboard cut out! cant believe how any one can not appritiate wildlife like that!

Basker with Isle of Eigg in the backdrop

The season is flying by and were nearly into July already. It just seemed like last week when I headed up in the first week of March in savage winter conditions with Golden Eagle soaring over the snowy tops.
I found out recently that we have a new addition at home with a black and white cat turning up out of nowhere. This was days after John was moaning about rabbits and rodents destroying his crops then suddenly this cat appears which is always the best solution to the problem. I told Lee the story and he reckoned that John had just found it in the village and took its collar off and said yeah its a stray that will do! haha, Stuz also said there will be a poster up in the post office for a missing cat and John will walk in and buy some Felix and a bottle of milk and wait for the shop keeper to turn around and rip the poster down!

Diving with Baskers, great experience!

The following week I suddenly got a bad eye from nowhere as it started irritating me so on the Monday morning I headed to the surgery nice and early but there was too many old people pottering around so I didnt have time so headed off to work but on arrival Jimbo made a fair point " u dont mess around with your eyes" so he sent me back upto the surgery and for a days rest. I got some drops for my eye and took it easy sitting back and watching Andy Murray at Wimbledon.
The next day my eye ball wasent much better so when I arrived at the pontoon for work Popz had an eye patch ready for me so I popped it on and was ready for all the pirate jokes that would be thrown at me throughout the trip! It was a frustrating trip especially because their could of been Orca breaching on my right side and I would of missed them. I took the eye patch off half way through the trip and my vision was all blurry and I thought carnage! but later found out it was normal when one eye is closed for a period of time.

Sunset from Isle of Gunna!

Thanks for reading! Butterflies and Dragonflies are one of the main focus subjects as well as anything else magical Mull has to offer!

Finally a Blog shout out to Holly Siddons who is demanding a mention in the famous GWW02 blog so there you go Holly! u rock!