Sunday, 26 May 2013

A skua special...

This week was dominated by a skua passage of the west coast and on one particular Whalewatch on our way back from seeing two minke whales, a group of eight Long-tailed Skuas flew right over the boat providing exceptional views! Two Arctic's also seen on the trip.

The following day we got a stunning Pomarine heading east down loch sunart. We enjoyed some close flybys as the bird was tackling the strong south westerly. Four species of Skua seen in two days and close views at that :)

Below are a few photos from this weeks Sea Life Surveys trips for you to enjoy. Next week I am away all week on a Shark charter crewing on board the luxurious bold ranger as we go in search of basking sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and any other marine beasties to experience. An island landing on Lunga as well to experience the large colonies of breeding sea birds so with a nice 5 day forecast ahead fingers crossed for an action packed week of hebridean wildlife. Watch this space for my next blog post...


Long-tailed Skua, one of eight over the boat on passage north, by Chris


manxies off Ardnamurchan point 
Harbour Porpoise


Manx Shearwater


Golden eagle


Goldie perched in front of Sea Pink...

The Cairns of Coll...

Island landing during whalewatch...
Thanks for looking...

Gary Storey Photography

Gary's photography facebook page ...www.facebook.com/GaryStoreyPhotography

500px photography page ... http://500px.com/GaryStorey

My friend Gary has been an experienced photographer and all round naturist from the day I first met him back in 2008. The best thing about him is his willingness to help others including myself as he is always happy to pass on his photography / wildlife knowledge to improve other people. 

 He still finds time around work and study to get out in the field and capture some amazing images in wild areas. Enjoy his collection below and view his new facebook and 500px pages for more images from himself.

Click on image for a larger scale...

Sycamore Gap, Hadrians Wall, Milky Way, If you have seen the film Robin Hood prince of Thieves
you will recognise this spot... 

Winter's Gibbet, a hanging stock. The final hanging was held here on August 10th 1792, William Winter, Jane & Eleanor Clark were executed for murder and this Gibbet has been left as a "Monument for Murder" 

River Gelt, stunning rock formation...

Sunset from Castle Carrock fell, HDR

Myself and Gary...watching the stars up on Geltsdale...

Thanks for looking :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Moonbow Media...

I was contacted by the Press and Journal earlier in the week after they saw my moonbow photograph on Jon Hoyletts excellent Kilchoan Diary blog. I was phone interviewed about the experience and it was published in Wednesdays P and J which covers the Aberdeenshire, Invernesshire, Highlands and islands area. I was pleased that my family all based in Aberdeenshire got to see it. Also my uncle Alistair now based in London who subscribes to the online version. A nice mention for Sea Life Surveys in there as well.

After appearing in the P and J, journalist Will Lyon got in touch about giving it national coverage and another phone interview about the experience and the superbly written piece was in 'The Scottish Sun' the following day. What a privilege to be sharing the pages along with legends like Peter Andre, Kerry Katona and Made in Chelsea actors. I got some stick off my mates Laurie and Lee because over the years I have slagged off the headlines and stories in these red label papers. Maybe one day I will make to the dizzy heights of the Daily Mail...maybe they could publish my urban fox article as well?...http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/a-super-species-outfoxed/


The photo made it to the BBC Scotland website photos of the week which can be seen here...

View my original moonbow pictures on a previous blog post here http://ebm-gww.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/night-photography-on-mull-including.html



Press and Journal piece...

Scottish Sun...
Thanks for looking :)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Night Hawk...

With astronomical darkness getting less and less approaching summer solstais I am restricted to a small 2-3 hour window in the early morning. I was really keen to do a traffic trail of the boats going up and down the sound of Mull and my first image captures that with the motion of the stars above...

Dusk to Darkness time lapse...boat traffic and star trail

Another star trail below while an aurora borealis was buffering and more boat traffic in motion...

Another star trail with Aurora Borealis

A single Aurora frame...

Another night shift on the 17th and had to stake it until 1am for good darkness but the setting moon over the sea looked stunning. A Cuckoo calling at 0146 to be precise! And a Skylark after 2. Tawnys calling throughout the night.

Moon setting over the isle of Coll and hebridean sea

Up at 'The Masts'

I did a few seascapes on the north end of the isle with a moderate north wind creating rough seas coming in. 3 Mountain Hares feeding on the exposed tide and a huge Dog Otter ran right past me when I was hunched over my tripod. Turnstone and Ringed Plover on the shore.

Big Seas and Surf on the north end of Mull


Savage!

Thanks for looking :)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Northumberland National Park by Night - Cain Scrimgeour

Throughout the winter months of 2012-13, wildlife film maker, photographer and all round naturalist Cain Scrimgeour turned nocturnal for his latest project supported by the Northumberland National Park to capture the night sky in different locations around the region. 

Have a look at his completed video sequence here...endless long night shifts to produce 4 minutes of pure magic...




View his web site here - http://cainscrimgeour.co.uk/

Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/CainScrimgeourWildlifePhotographyAndFilm

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Copulate to Populate

A positive headline from Ireland with the first WTE chicks hatched in over a century...
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/05/08/irish-white-tailed-eagle-reintroduction-historic-landmark-success-as-the-first-chicks-in-110-years-hatch/

Watch iconic breeding raptors live from your sofa, not quite as good as the real thing but ideal for when its raining outside! 
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/05/07/live-web-cams-from-around-the-world-updated/

After getting over 30 ticks on me this article appeared in the media regarding the lack of awareness in the potentially deadly parasite. An important read...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22468181

Cain's Northumberland Dark Sky Project was published on the BBC web site showing his best images from the winter months where he committed a lot of hours capturing the night sky...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-22437365

Spring is struggling to arrive with below average temperatures, a high amount of rainfall and moderate to strong winds. Not ideal conditions for the commencing breeding season and for the demand for our SLS boat trips.

Some good records on the isle in recent weeks have been a Blue-headed Wagtail at Calgary found by Mull Magic, Cock Snowbunting at Glengorm, Dotterel on Iona and Ben More, A pair of Shoveller and a White-billed Diver in Loch Na Keal found by Mull Charters. Check all Mull records here...http://www.mullbirds.com/LATESTREPORTS.html

Still concentrating on a couple of Harrier territories and numbers are starting to build in the vicinity with more birds seen on every visit and some great views of copulation. One site which had a single male on five out of my seven visits (22 hours of field viewing) now is joined by a female as display flight has been taking place and display calls. No Short-eared Owl sightings in the last fortnight which could be an indicator of vole populations. I will write a more detailed article about my Harrier observations in the next few weeks. 


Harrier recordings...


Female Harrier and a Raven in flight over Mull...

A couple of trips out in free time with the first at Caliach point to do some sea watching on the look out for early Minke whales and a possible Skua passage. No Sign of Cetaceans and just Great Skua seen. The highlight was a Male Merlin flying low on the grazed grass right in front of me. A Jay was seen near Croig as well along with a White-Wagtail. 
I headed out with Rach to cover the south part of the isle with the main focus on Harrier numbers at anything else in general. Four females and a grey male were seen during our circuit and a pair of Peregrines holding territory as well. 



Aros Park...

The water in full flow on the isle...

On one particular SLS four hour trip we had amazing WT Eagle territorial action as an immature bird flew over the birds patch and the male performed amazing vocal yelping before taking flight and grappling with the young bird right over the boat! Peter Musson was on board who is a great guy and an SLS regular and you can check out his web site here www.petermussonphotos.com

On the first Friday of May I went with two lovely American ladies down to Iona for some general guidance of wildlife and information of the isle. Persistent rain throughout did not dampen our spirits as we got the ferry across to the famous isle. Corncrakes heard on route to the isle and with the vegetation slow in promoting a couple of birds were showing very well. We paid into the abbey to get a tour which I wasn't really too bothered about but it was a handy place to get shelter from the heavy rain. There was a few people in their doing prayers and trying to find a connection of some sort but all I could hear was the construction workers outside shouting "pass me the f##kin spirit level chief!" Anyway a beautiful old building full of history.

We saw 5 Whimbrel on the way back and 3 Golden Plover. Also a Female Harrier getting mobbed by Curlews. The ladies got the ferry back to the mainland from Craignure and I had a great day and really enjoyed their company. 



SLS team 2013...andy t, Ruth, Lippy, popz, Jimbo, jayne, richard and myself

SLS's Sula Beag was charted out for island baggers for a few days last week as we took them to some remote isles off the west of Mull so they could add the sites to their list. The weather was constant rain again on every trip and big seas as well to add to the challenge. The wildlife highlight was two Pom Skuas heading north in between Treshnish point and the east side of Coll. Cracking birds and great views. A single little Tern off Gunna was also seen. 

My parents and the dogs were up for a few days earlier this week and it was great to see them and have a nice relaxing time together. An evening out with dad got us at least 6 Hen Harriers in close proximity with sky dancing seen as well. My first Whitethroats were seen and heard and a near by pond had healthy numbers of Palmate Newts in. 

On the Wednesday I took Tim, Alice and Katie around the isle who were up from Cumbria and family members of one of my best mates Martin. Constant rain with very little break made it hard to see any eagles as we enjoyed nice views of Red Deer and GN Divers. The highlight for me was a reverse waterfall at Balmeanach which was blowing vertically straight up in the air from the uplift of strong gusts...amazing sight. 



Manxie taking flight...

Manxies...

New kitwear for the season...Dont find this fancy clobber in a lost property box

The following day was a 7 hour Whalewatch with a moderate easterly wind. We covered the Ardnamurchan grounds and watched superb feeding build of Shearwater, Kittys, Auks, Gannets and other gulls. After navigating the area for a while John (Ruths uncle) spotted a whale off the stern and it was the first of the season as all 16 on board got a sight of the mammal! A fantastic experience after tracking the feeding birds and getting rewarded with a magnificent Minke! Good porpoise and eagles made for a great all round trip. Watch Andy Taits video of the minke encounter here...ignore the moron with the bobble hat on... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94RLYTsCc_g&feature=youtu.be


Ruth with John pointing at his well earned Mars bar, Popz looking
 on with Andy scanning

Shearwaters off Ardnamurchan point

Skating over the sea...

Heavy rain the following day as myself, parents and dogs headed down to new ground at Croggan and Loch Buie. Four Harriers on the way down while travelling was great work and with the eagles well hunkered we concentrated on coastal species with good RT and GN Divers. Black Guilimots paired up and Gannets and a single Guilimot. A close Whimbrel roadside was also seen. The best sighting of the day was bumping into Ruth, Patsy and John (legendary auntie and uncle) down at Loch Buie. Together we attempted to walk to the stone circle but the crossing field was a muddy bog as we retreated back to that car after a few hundred yards! A failure but a good laugh any how!



male RB Merganser on Loch Spelvie...

Freshwater Loch Uisg

The  next morning I said goodbye to my amazing parents and hopefully will see them back on the isle later on in the season. I met Ste Hewitt and Barry in the pub, Ste is a mate from back home and the plan was to watch the FA cup final before heading out to see some wildlife as the rain was meant to clear. Always great to see the underdogs beat the wealthy money men and a good result for football in general. After the match Ste, Barry and Richard (new SLS office staff) all headed to a good traditional site to look for some eagles.


On arrival we had a Goldie in flight straight away and as we parked up to watch we saw some fantastic territorial behaviour with the male bird harrasing a Herring Gull before performing some superb sky diving displays. We enjoyed two goldies showing off their aerial skills before we headed west along the shore to look for Otters where we got 3 separate animals and great views as well. Working back we got 7 Mountain Hares along with Red and Fallow Deer. As the light dropped we had views of Tawny and Barn Owl showing v well roadside...After 3-4 days of persistent rain the wildlife really did come out to play on Saturday evening...what a fantastic few hours viewing! Hopefully see Ste back on the isle later in the season. 

Thanks for looking :)

Friday, 3 May 2013

Night photography on Mull including lunar rainbow

A couple of breaks in the savage weather enabled me to do some night shifts with the stars around the isle. The highlight was seeing the rare sight of a lunar rainbow which is also called a moonbow or a space rainbow. You need a strong moon crescent and large droplets of mist in the rain clouds for it to be visible with the naked eye and it was a fantastic sight! 

A fantastic atmosphere around Mull at night when most people are nestled away, I feel like I have the isle to myself. A Barn Owl seen south of Tobermory on route to Lochdon and also good numbers of Tawnys calling. A single Mountain Hare at Ardmore and large numbers of Red Deer roadside on lowland areas all through my travels. 

Click on photos for larger scale...


Lunarbow over Kilchoan... 

Full rainbow visible with the naked eye...

Salen Bay at night...

Lochdon with a space rainbow 
Duart Castle under the stars...


Thanks for looking :)