Myself and Andrew Jake decided to head across to the mainland on Friday evening and up to Mallaig where we slept in the car at a nearby lay-by and up early the next morning to catch the 7am ferry to cover the Small isles.
We boarded MV Lochnevis in Mallaig harbour and the wildlife was on show from the word go as we admired hundreds of starlings emerging from their roost site 50ft high in the harbour car park lights. A raft of 40 plus eider ducks was also present with some drakes putting on a resilient display.
Moments later and we were on to harbour porpoise in small groups with a healthy number of juveniles and calves seen as we made our way to the west. A flurry of activity followed as we saw over 30 gannets in a cloud feeding hard and also a group of 40 plus harbour porpoise in a concentrated area! It seems that from past observations at this time of the year harbour porpoise can congregate in larger numbers in the autumn/winter months. A big group of kittiwakes were seen feeding to the south of us at the same time.
|Minke off Rum|
Minutes later I spotted another minke off the starboard bow which performed 5 surface rolls in a south-easterly direction.
|An ID shot of the first minke recorded|
It was the first time I had seen Canna close up and I was really impressed with its isolated beauty. A tiny community of 17 people and lovely surrounding wildscapes. Andrew spotted two white-tailed eagles perched on grassy knolls on the south of the isle. A passenger told us later on that the island had eradicated rats and rabbits in the last few years and now they have lost their solitary pair of golden eagles. A difficult compromise losing one species means losing a symbolic bird of prey which could have provided a huge amount of joy and inspiration to island visitors and locals a like.
|The isle of Eigg|
Two more juvenile minke whales were seen on the crossing from Eigg to Mallaig as the total count was six in seven hours sea watching! A single straggling manx shearwater was seen right off the bow as well to finish off a wonderful marine excursion with a fantastic array of species and seascapes.