Sunday, 5 August 2012

All smiles please...None of this grimacing

All about the marine life again and the main highlight was encountering two of Sea Life Surveys identified regular Minke whales which have been visiting Mull waters for over a decade. They are called Knobble and Kasey and it makes whale sightings extra special when you can relate to an individual that you have seen before. We use a fixed 300mm lens to capture shots of their dorsal fin which can be as unique as a human finger print. Different shapes, size, markings and nicks all help to identify them. Knobble now has a Facebook page to celebrate ten years of seeing him in our waters

As we know the Olympics are on at the minute and here is a good link showing wildlife species putting world records to shame in a number of the events. They are not doing it for medals, pride or money but simply for survival, evolving over millions of years... brilliant.

Two new areas of marine protection have been introduced in Northern Ireland to protect the habitats and species in the area and to encourage people to visit and see the marine life.

An article on the possible impact small scale turbines could have on bats

Black Grouse need more investment from landowners to preserve the species...

Three pairs of Harriers and sufficient habitat for four hundred, countryside management at an embarrassing level...

Superb underwater footage of a Minke whale taken by Andy Tait

Common Dolphin bow riding, close up! could not be bothered to change the big lens!

Knobble close surface!

Kasey with his/her distinct fin

Commons surfacing in Unison...

Our local pair of Goldies have been successful in rearing a chick for the first time in nearly a decade as the eaglet was seen at the edge of the nest cup strengthening his / her flight muscles. This is the pair I watched back in March copulating, displaying in a number of ways and patrolling their territory. They are incredibly illusive birds and I had no clue that they were successful in breeding attempts until about mid May when they showed very aggressive behaviour to two intruding Goldies and protecting their patch. I finally found out which nest site they were using in July and when I seen a young chick in there a week later it was a special sight.

Our neighbouring WT Eagles are also a happy family having reared two healthy chicks and all were seen sat close together as we passed by their coastal territory on a trip earlier this week. We have watched the fledglings in flight and they already look very natural avian masters. When the SLS season started back in March we could see the birds incubating on the nest before following them all the way through the breeding season bringing in food, eaglets in the nest, branching out and finally fledging! what a pleasure.

Wake riding providing easy photo opportunity...

Lochdon on an ebbing tide

Lunchtime landing at the Cairns of Coll, finger in the corner just adds to the points of interest...v clever

The Cairns, stunning Hebridean location
We have continued to have huge success on our trips scoring the hatrick (Whale, Shark, Dolphin) on a consistent basis. A few memorable encounters including tracking a feeding frenzy of hundred plus Dolphins and fifty plus gannets, check the video below.
Also some amazing associations with Minkes approaching and circling Sula Beag. Also video below.
Nice to see some Porpoise with tiny calves the size of Atlantic Salmon!
One four hour wildlife trip sticks in my mind because of an unconfirmed sighting. It was strong south wind and wet spells and we were on the north cost of Mull in more sheltered waters when we got a Minke off the bow. We watched it a couple of times and I scanned in the distance and when panning across to the right I got the back end of a tall black kinky dorsal fin disappearing below the surface. My heart went into my mouth and I was waiting for it to appear again and explode and shout Orca...but nothing was seen and I was very frustrated for the rest of the trip. I will never know but whatever it was it was travelling fast. A pair of BT Divers in Ardmore bay was another nice point of interest.

Basking Shark just below the surface...

Its all about the landscape...

On the mooring looking back at Tobermory on Highland Yacht week

Commons and gannet feeding frenzy!

Minke circling Sula Beag

In a nutshell....done

Lyd scanning for Sabines...
Lydia Hosdell has left Sea Life Surveys after a few years of excellent service to the company. We will still see her around though as she is now running the marine education centre down stairs. She is an avid follower of this blog and even has it saved as her home page on her laptop! Good luck Lyd and cheers for everything (especially your SLS hoody).

An amazing fortnight and I don't think I could ask for any more...well maybe an Orca or two but cant be greedy. My next days off will consist of roaming the higher ground to focus on upland habitats and breeding success of its species, and also take in the breathtaking scenery around the island...cant wait.

Just at I publish this post Andy Murray is Olympic champion by dispatching Federer in straight sets!! :-)