Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Make like a tree and leave...

Have to start with this utterly disgusting headline regarding a Golden Eagle that caught in an illegal trap braking both its legs causing a long painful death...Nothing more than worthless countryside criminals. Think of all the incidents that we miss. 

The Badger e-petition has steamed past 100,000 which means the house of Commons have to consider it as there is so much public outcry. It doesn't mean any work is done yet and the more votes the better to really make them react. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

RSPB Scotland have been praised for their work and management on Orkney regarding reduced grazing pressure to benefit Hen Harriers. One hundred breeding females on Orkney last season is a fantastic figure and it is nice to read some positive news on the struggling iconic raptor.

Have you read these comments by this guy?! He reeled in a top predator out of its environment that it had mastered in the last 400 million years and the Shark nibbled on his steel toe cap boot and he called it a bad bad fish and turned it into a life threatening experience. He somehow made it into an article which was published all around the country .I read the exact same thing written in shit on a toilet wall...dear me

It has been a quiet fortnight in general with strong winds and wet spells restricting our trips and my general fieldwork. I took a five day long skippers theory course last week with Hebridean Sea School as well so most of the focus was passing that. The SLS team had a great day last Tuesday getting Common Dolphins and 3 whales so that was great. One amazing encounter was on a seven hour trip and we were watching a WTE juvenile in flight as it made its way into a Golden Eagle territory and out of nowhere a Goldie appeared stooping in striking the bird and talon grappling for half a second before the WTE did one back to where it came from. A strong lesson for the young bird and territory dominance. The video is at the bottom of this post, captured by Andy. A few nice sunrises and sunsets captured last weekend as well as the weather started to turn better (photos below). That is about all I have got for you I am afraid so here is a few pictures from recent events and encounters...

Click for larger scale... 

Rainbow the morning after Murrays victory in the US open, very fitting, we also seen an Otter in the harbour just afterwards which we quickly named after the tennis star.
Horse Chestnut foliage turning over Aros fishing loch...

Manx Shearwater in flight off Macleans nose, Ben Haint

reached over the top of the wheelhouse and took a photo of popz on the helm, photography is about capturing something a bit different...well here it is

Doing my Geology talk on the way in, secret weapon if we haven't seen any whales!...along with the midgee talk!


Me and Andy Tait on the monkey deck down loch Sunart, It looks like Andy has eaten too many mince pies! there is a deal on in Co-op and Andy has bought about 50 boxes for on board Sula Beag and turned them into christmas cruises!

Lunchtime with Andy on the pontoon at Carna foraging for Mussels....

Taking the group ashore on Carna, a remote island on Loch Sunart, Pippits and a few Seals seen...

Great Skua in flight over Ben Hiant

Slam champion! if you read my blog i am sure u know I am a keen supporter of Murray, very happy after US open success... in fact... delighted! :-)

Tobermory harbour at dawn...

Another angle looking north east...

Yachts on the mooring with the sun breaking through...

A beautiful day on Mull

Crisp morning light!

My work place for my 5 day skipper theory course...

Silage bales rounded up at Killiechronan...

creel boat on Loch na Keal doing an evening shift...

Sunset with Gribun cliffs on the left...

Showing the WTE who is boss...A Golden moment of wildlife watching!

Thanks for looking, good action to come in the next post with the last whalewatch trips of the season and also I am making my debut as an inland wildlife guide on the island...Cant wait!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Worse things happen at Sea...

September is here and the season is speeding by. The good run of weather has come to an end as the wind strengths have increased along with more 'scotch mist' appearing. The nights are starting to close in which I don't mind too much because of the dark sky opportunities arrive again which I will try to take advantage of again. The changing colours and landscapes during the day are again something to look forwards to. Anyway here is my latest post with up to date British conservation headlines as well as my own experiences in the last fortnight.

Popz and Terry...
Two conservation legends together on board Sula Beag. RIP Terry Nutkins thanks for everything you did for wildlife. 

Great to see Steven Hawkings (part of my family tree) oppening the paralympics in London. The name Hawkings goes back generations in our family and after looking into the meaning of the name it obbviosuly has a connection with hawks and the sport of hunting with hawks and falcons as well as keeping birds as a folconer. There is an obvious appritiation for birds of prey in our family with my dads strong passion and my own drive starting with raptors and my natural facination of eagles when I was younger.   
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hawking

Article in Fridays Cumberland news regarding the potential Eagle re-introduction. Over 90% back the plans, surely the small minority wont get their way on this project.

New research into the Wildcat populations regarding DNA tests to separate pure-bred from feral. Wildcats are as different to domestic cats as wolves are from dogs and new reports predict that there could be now as few as one hundred pure Highland Tigers in the wild. New content for my Wildcat talk on our trips. 

More evidence towards the intelligence of corvids with scientific discoveries into Blue Jays mourning the dead and holding a funeral like ritual.

A mass stranding of Pilot whales on the coast of Fife with a total of 16 that have died. Hundreds of volenteers spent hours in the rocky shallows trying to keep the whales submerged and buoyant. 

An article in the shooting Times by a guy with a good mentality who appreciates our raptors. They haven't evolved over millions of years to adapt to ever changing environments and become top predators of the skies for a few uneducated people to call them 'vermin'.

Here is the review taken from the News and Star of Johns new book Hadrians Wildlife. I have seen the content of the book and looking forward to reading it in full. Another piece of masterclass by a true wildlife hero and I am so proud that he is my dad!  

We have had some good Minke whale encounters when conditions have not restricted us with one particular encounter when a whale surfaced close off our starboard side and just under the surface it turned onto its side and upside down where you could see its pale parts...amazing. Video is at the bottom of the post. 
Other sightings of interest was 10 Brent Geese heading south at loch Mingery and shortly after that we had a Kitiwake taking refuge above the top deck from an Arctic Skua harassing the bird. After a Peregrine drought for a few months we got two on one trip, great to see those stunners again! 

I don't talk about our passengers much but on one particular trip we had a real character on board who was partially sighted and he just stayed on the aft deck the whole trip cracking jokes.   He said whats the most common type of owl? I said probably Tawny Owl...he says no its the Tea T-owl! Tea Towel will probably be on the British bird species list before Eagle Owl is! He also said How do you get a bear down from a tree?...with some cheese...Camonbear! haha. Ruth offered him a ginger biscuit and he said no thanks love they make your hair go a funny colour. What a great guy, he didn't see much...obviously...but had a great trip...and he was only one day off getting Orcas! 


Peacock on Buddleia back home...


White-tailed Bumblebee in the garden...

Headed back to Cumbria for a long weekend at the end of the month with the main reason for a golfing weekend at Slaley Hall resort with a lot of my old mates. I was enthralled with the wild garden back home with Butterflies showing well including Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Comma. Swallows all gathering on the wire and Dad counted 60 at once the week previous. Female Blackcap along with Adult and Juv Spotted Flycatcher showing well also.  


Peacock...


Small Tortoiseshell 


Hoverfly...


A pair of Peacocks

Slaley Hall for the weekend and it was great to see all my mates again. A stoat praying on rabbit was a highlight and also Crossbills, Kes and Buz were seen. Golf courses are great nature reserves with the managed hazards of the course been rough grass, trees /  woodland. shot 27 points on the sat with Andy Mcgree with 42 leading with a superb -2. Complex we stayed at was nice and even had its own Gun Room! Swim in the morning was average in the clorine swamp. never again am I going in a public pool...will stick to the river Gelt! 28 points on Sunday and I came 2nd on the day and got two twos so made a bit of financial profit. We went to the Near Boot inn back in Carlisle afterwards and had tea and also did the presentation. A great weekend with great people. 



Plain Golden Y, Binnie Banks, Geltsdale


Red Squirrel, Gdale

I had a free day on Monday before heading back to Mull so I headed up the valley with the priority been Adders. 2012 is defiantly not the year of the snake as they have managed to elude me every time down here and also on Mull. Never mind..it will make my next encounter extra special. A nice Red Squirrel was seen and also a Plain Golden Y Moth up at Binnie Banks. Went to check out Carlisle Res in the afternoon with Dad and got a lovely female Sparrowhawk along the road darting in and out of the woodland as we were driving. Up to 100 Canada Geese on the water including one hybrid. A couple of Little Grebes on the far side and Goldcrests calling up in the conifers. A brief view of a pretty certain Peregrine up on the fell was seen by myself to cap off a successful outing. 


Glen Sander vessel for transporting Silica sand which is valued as the highest in the UK at 98.8% quartz. It is used to make a solar glass panels and is often shipped across the Atlantic to the states.


Tobermory harbour on a full moon...


Slaley Hall the Huntsman...


Glencoe on my way back to Mull...
Air time Common Dolphin capture...
Did Ewe check the time table?? Sheep standard in Salen bay...for a few hours anyway!


WT Eagle blocking out all the sunshine were getting on Mull
Team photo from Slaley hall...


King of the skies...

Another Orca photo sent in from one of the passengers on board from the 24th August

video
                                         
Minke whale close surface before turning on side (hard to see on video)


  Mars bar presentation in SLS tradition to the first whale spotter!

Thanks for looking 8-) here is my Focusing on Wildlife article regarding that Orca encounter...http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/24th-of-orca-ust-remember-the-date/