I was Soooo close to encountering the top predators in the ocean and also some more great trips and stories with Sea Life Surveys including a couple of special guest trips with Gordon Buchanan.
Minke Surfacing in front of a raft of Shearwater
Photo taken by Chris when himself and I were on the RIB
2020 Vision on board for the week beginning 18th July and they are a multimedia based project that communicates the link between peoples well being and the restoration of natural systems. A few of their photographers were on our trips including Alex Mustard who is regarded as one of the best underwater photographers around and Ruth Molloy is on love with him! Also Chris Gommersall an RSPB photographer who knows my dad well from back in the 80s when he used to visit Geltsdale reserve for his photography work. He also stayed at our house when I was a young sproglet!
The main highlight of the week was on the Thursday when we were coming on our way back from a quiet trip out to the Cairns and just coming into Ardmore point we got breaching in the distance and there was 8 Bottlenose Dolphins putting on a great display! They started bow riding and the length and girth of the buggers was unreal! The Scottish population of BN Dolphins are the biggest in the world growing up to 4.5 meters! The next move was for me and Chris to get in to the RIB and to take pictures of their bow riding action on Sula Beag and the photo above is Chris's best result! Amazing experience as the Dolphins started bow riding our RIB and they were the same length at nearly 12 feet! " 2 Golden Eagles circling above made for an unforgeable wildlife experience......
Wildcat drawing Holly sent me....Class!
Day off on the Saturday and it was off to my new local patch Ardmore to search for Dragonflies. I ended up getting Golden Ringed and Common Hawker. I love my Dragonflies like! Great birdie action as well with Ringtail Harrier working the rough grass while a Goldie circled high above!
Possible Hybrid photographed by Tash near Loch Frisa
On the Sunday it was a special 8 hour whale watch trip with Gordon Buchanan on board. Lovely sunshine but a bit of a northerly chop to add to the challenge! quiet on the way out to the Carins with just the magic of Shearwater and Gannets to keep us entertained. We landed at the Cairns of Coll for lunch and Gordie got his underwater HD camera out (the same as Cains) and got in amongst the seals while I just went in for a dip...fresh! Just Porpoise on the way back as the conditions beat us but a great trip with lovely people and Gordon did a great job!
Gordie at the Carins filming the Seals
Team photo with different weather! 24/07
On the 26th is was another WW with Lewy as skipper and Abernethy, Sarah Blake and Holly ( a new volenteer) helping as crew. We headed north to Muck in decent conditions picking up quite a few Porpoise on the way. We landed on Muck and I think I have explained in a previous post what I think of Isle of Muck and sack it I will tell you again that I dont like the place for the simple reason that most of the island is managed for game birds Pheasants and Red Legged Partridge which is all a complete waste of time for many reasons but especially on a Hebridean island which are so important in providing a safe heaven for otherwise threatened wildlife species on the mainland with prime examples being Hen Harriers and Corncrake. Its a good island for Dragonflies but on your normal trek to find the shallow ponds you end up getting shocked by flushing game birds out of the long grass every 5 yards so basically the whole place is a load of monkey spunk and a waste of a good island. I am sure it would be ok for tourists to have a potter around and go to the tea room though. And surprise surprise there are no Raptors to be seen on the island. Anyway back to the days whale watch and we all went to the tea room where I sat outside with my bait box watching the glorious Swallows in action on a nice warm sunny afternoon. We all headed back to Sula Beag ready for the second half of play! I managed to pick up a sneaky Minke just north of Sanna Bay but not everyone on the boat got to see it which was frustrating. Golden Eagle at Ardnamurchan and Peregrine back at the pontoon to finish off a good day. went for a run on the evening to Ardmore with Ruth A and Holly and half way through went for a nice swim in the sea at Ardmore bay!
Sooty Shearwater! was delighted when I seen this!
On the Saturday it was a charter day involving taking the family from Glengorm castle to Coll for a day out there. Dragon as skipper and Ruth m, Nick, Stu and myself on as crew to look after everyone on board and find them some wildlife along the way. We started with a male Peregrine harrasing Gulls above the pontoon and we also got White tailed Eagle sat on the sea stack at Ardmore point! When we here heading past Port Langnamull one of the younger girls on board was bragging how when she was on this exact charter 3 years ago she got Orcas whilst on the way to Mull! Very jealous and I was thinking I hope she is a lucky omen! When we reached the middle ground we came across a small hurry of feeding birds along with Porpoise and in amounst a raft of manxies.....Sooty Shearwater! great to see and also managed to get a record photo to go with it....
it was amongst a raft of Manxies just east of Coll
Gannet feeding in a small hurry
When we landed on Coll I was expecting a hero's welcome from the Coll people after my 25 runs not out to win the Cricket for them but there was no Collucks in sight which I thought was discraceful after all the good ive done for the Island. Anyway the Glengorm clan headed sharp right straight to the pub and I knew where I was going straight away and that was sharp left to see the Blue Whale skeleton near the ferry terminal. Popz was telling me that a Mail Boat struck the Blue Whale back in 1895 and caused it to beach. Another sign that the great Whales were in our British waters before the disgusting whaling industry took its toll. As Ruth, Stu and I were walking up the hill to see it....ring ring ring on Ruths cell phone....Orcas sighted near Langnamull 20 minutes ago! Wow! really bad timing as we had just anchored up and everyone was in the pub including our skipper! We must of just missed them by a matter of minutes! I scanned and scanned from land to try and pick them up but no joy. We moved on to Carins of Coll before heading east back to Tobermory. The highlight on the way back was Nicks amazing joke as he went to the bar to get a drink and instead of lifting out the tuck sheet Dragon lifted out the eco book with a Puffin showing and Nick said 'Can I have a Puffin plesae'........and after that I will ask for the Razorbill!' haha genius....Nick is my idol.
Blue whale spine on the isle of Coll
On the Friday it was a Whale watch with 2 Minke's and a juvenile Shark off Ardnamurchan. On the evening I met Lise Hume Simpson who was up for the weekend from London, a friend who I met on a trip last season. We went to Waterfront for tea and then a walk around Aros afterwards and it was nice to see her again.
Sunday 31st and the second instalment of the Gordon Buchanan trip in savage conditions. over 30 on board again. We had no choice but to go round the north west part of Mull where the conditions would be less choppy. Great Skua and Porpoise being the highlights on a challenging 8 hours.
Team photo of Gordie, Crew and punters, 31/07
Some great wildlife trips on the week starting 1st August. On the Monday it was a WW with 2 Whales and 30 plus Basking sharks!
On the Tuesday with Lewy as skipper it was same again as we headed over to Coll and got a couple of Whales again and a distant Shark. Lunch time at the Cairns and I had a nice swim when I found a spare five minutes.
On the way back there was a problem with the boat so Lewy came up to explain to everyone that the electrics had gone on the boat and the toilets would be out of use and he quickly said for a joke that you could do your business in a bucket and throw it over the side....and we all laughed and expected him to go back into the wheelhouse.....and then suddenly he just carried on talking and was telling everyone stories of different ways that fisherman do the toilet when their out at sea for long spells. "Certain fisherman use a co-op bag or just curl one out straight off the stern of the boat" Then he moved onto tell everyone on the top deck about how he always used to get caught out when at sea and picking up rubbish from the ocean and when he grabbed the bags with his hands he quickly found out it was a bag of crap that a fisherman had thrown overboard hahaha. At this point one of the punters quoted "Stop talking....Stop talking now" and someone had to actually tell Lewis to stop the conversation so he turned around back into his cockpit just before a sarcastic round of applause by everyone! I informed everyone it was back to scanning and Nick quickly replied...Skatting?...no scanning! haha. I had a severe case of Giggleitos for the rest of the trip because of Lewy's now famous shitbag speech!
On the Wednesday we had two four hour trips and when we were off Croig another phone call this time to Lewis.....Orca reported off Sanna Bay heading south! wow again! great conditions we thought we have to pick them up! Got two Minke's off Ardnamurchan but no Killer Whales! On the evening trip we headed straight back out to Ardnamurchan and it was a feeding frenzy off the point and has to be one of the trips of the season with three Minke's feeding around the mass of Gannets and Shearwater! great stuff!
A couple of Plugs to finish with and first of all Holly who's name might of cropped up on the previous post.....anyway she is in South Africa for 6 months working with and researching Leopards and other big cats and she is doing a fantastic blog called Where's Holly? which is well worth a read.
Also I am updating the Sea Life Surveys Captains Log over the season and my latest posting has all the latest ups and downs in the world of Wildlife along with my latest photography images while on Mull.
Orca's just off the north Mull shoreline recorded by Tim Williams..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTn4wUWgVTs&feature=autoshare