Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Aurora Articles...

My Aurora Borealis photography and views on the potential of dark sky tourism made national media papers the Daily Mail and The Scotsman along with the regional based Press and Journal...

The Scotsman version
http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/northern-lights-captured-on-mull-in-hebrides-1-3039923

Press and Journal...
http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/3347189



Press and Journal & The Scotsman

Daily Mail...

Ewan

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Its all about the field...

Cain has been busy this summer doing a few projects including Time lapsing for ITV, filming the Tyne Kittiwakes and also filming wild meadows for the Northumberland National Park. Read his latest article (online version) in Hexham Courants Environmental Supplement...
http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?referral=mypagesuite&refresh=6Mf1p80NY1j2&PBID=3991d5c6-38bb-4d60-a5cb-752a17d36339&skip 

His superb astrophotography filming was also featured on the ITV news regarding Northumberlands 'Dark Sky' bid...http://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/story/2013-07-15/northumberlands-dark-sky-bid/

More Basking Sharks have been tagged this summer involving Sea Life Surveys, SNH and University of Exeter. Follow the animals live movements here...
http://www.wildlifetracking.org/index.shtml?project_id=839&dyn=1374766063

Amazing bird has 50th Osprey chick in Britian...
http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/lady-osprey-50.html

Scotland introduces new measures to deter wildlife crime... http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/scotland-crime-wildlife.html

Guy Broomes excellent new photography website...
http://www.avefaunaphotographic.co.uk/

One of the major highlights in the last fortnight was pin pointing the harrier nest site for one of my two territories I am covering. The female bird was working hard all morning bringing in small birds with no sign of the grey male during the four hour spell. 


Female Hen Harrier working the conifers

Another highlight was being surrounded by up to a hundred Common Dolphins off Ardnamurchan point. Even when we stopped the engines they came in to us and had a look. Bow riding, wake riding, tail and side slapping was being done by the very sociable pod. Andy and I were on the bow getting wet from Dolphin spray!



Andy filming Commons
Minke Whale approaching the boat
Golden Eaglet!! in 7 foot nest construction on Ardnamurchan viewed from sea

After a four hour trip later in the week we had a problem with one of the engines and action was needed to beach Sula Beag so Lewy could check it over properly. Spring tides made the job easier as we anchored up tight next to the main street on high water and waited a few hours for the tide to expose Sula Beags hull. We had a nice BBQ on the aft deck as we watched the same boy/girl racers drive past the main street a million times. It was like watching one of those old cartoons with the repeated backdrop.
It was low water at about midnight as Lewy got to work on the engines and Richie and I started scrubbing the hull. Richie and I could not resist taking a few shots of SB with a strong moon behind the clouds. Went to bed on the top deck at about 4am and up at 7am for high water to take SB back to the pontoon and ready for mornings whalewatch at half 9.     



Sula Beag beached in Tobermory for some overnight work
Another angle with the moonlight...

A couple of days later I did an inland guiding trip for package people for Sea Life Surveys and it was a 6am start with a group of 3 to take them to some good Otters sites on the isle. All three sites were productive with a dog in each, South stretch of Loch Na Keal, Loch Schriden and Ulva. Back to Tob for lunchtime for the afternoons family wildlife adventure where we got more Otter action along with great wt eagles.



Fulmar sat next to Sula Beag
Steve the Herring Gull on Muck

I crewed for a charter to Sanna bay on the Sunday with residents of Glengorm including their friends and family. It was wet as we made passage but it soon cleared and ended up being glorious sunshine throughout. The kind passengers invited us on to the beach for the BBQ and a lovely spread of fodder. Captain Lewy took us round to see a Minks den just after we watched an animal swim across the bay. Puffin scull remains were there along with fish and crustaceans. 
Ringed Plover nesting on the rocky shore with 4 fledglings (Ruth was in haven). Later I headed to the higher ground to see the super volcano ring dykes and admire the spectacular view as I was surrounded by Bog Murtle, Harebells, Devils bit Scabious, Bell Heather and Bog Asphodel. 



Sanna bay charter with Bell Heather, Bog Murtle and Harebells.

I did another inland Otter safari at the start of the following week and a 6am start again to pick up passengers down at Laggan bay from the anchored Bold Ranger. A family of three and Winky were present as we tracked an Otter from the word go at Ulva ferry. We moved onto scan the shorelines of Loch Na Keal to no avail but some early morning landscapes were admired by all. After picking up Lewy from the ferry I was back in Tobermory for 9am ready for the days whalewatch where we got three individuals known as Nosey, Smoothy and of course the one and only Knobble!...remember to follow Knobble the Minke whale facebook page here...https://www.facebook.com/KnobbleTheMinkeWhale  



What light! dark rain clouds with a break

Another big highlight was some of the kids on board trips in recent weeks as the school holidays are in full flow. Huge enthusiasm by some of them with one kid (8 years old) carrying his bird of prey book around with him throughout the trip going through all the species with me. Another young lad had a go at wind farms for "cutting up birds". Also a young Chinese girl jumping up and down in delight everytime she saw a jellyfish...great to see.

Ewan

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Aurora season open 2013/14

After reading reports that the solar wind stream could buffer the earth's magnetic field at the weekend (04/08/13) I headed out to a good vantage point as clear skies were due to continue through the night. A small amount of true astronomical darkness arrives back in August in the British isles and I knew there was a chance of viewing the northern horizon with the right conditions for a potential aurora display.

The sunset remains finally disappeared at around 1am and myself and friend Richie started to shoot some long exposures on the camera, and to our excitement....we got green! The display built up throughout the early hours and peaked at around 2am with spectacular dancing columns moving from left to right. I went to another view point later on just before sunrise and the display turned into a beautiful high rising halo as the morning light took over proceedings. 

Dancing columns over the hebridean sea...

It is looking promising for more strong aurora showings in the British isles this winter as something big is about to happen to the sun according to measurements from NASA supported observatories. The suns vast magnetic field is about to flip (view the video below). It could be only 3-4 months away and would have ripple effects throughout the solar system. The reversal will mark the mid point of solar cycle 24. The suns magnetic field changes polarity every 11 years and we are currently at that stage of the cycle known as solar max. This next 12 months could be the best chance to experience the northern lights for over a decade. 


Halo aurora with the sunrise brewing on the horizon

Viewing the aurora spectacle along with the incredible star lit sky made me wonder why does tourism have to shut down in the winter months around the Hebrides? The chance to view and learn about the night sky and also capture it with a camera could be a big tourist drive. The ingredients are perfect for astronomy viewing with little light pollution,  plenty of cloudless nights and the northerly position on the globe increasing the chance of aurora. 


pulsating beams of light...



The suns magnetic field is about to flip...

To increase your own chances of viewing the aurora borealis you can follow the suns current geomagnetic activity on www.spaceweather.com and www.aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk. Try and find a nice high vantage point (the further north the better) with clear skies and little moonlight  and it is essential that you have no artificial light pollution, especially in a northerly direction. The most important thing just like all nature observing is having commitment and persistence. 

Ewan