Thursday, 23 April 2015

Nature wins everytime...

Explosive period of aurora borealis at midnight!! Venus setting to the west providing a stunning reflection over Hebridean waters
On the 14th, myself, Rachel, Richie and Ciara covered Loch na Keal in the fading light and got rewarded with the sight of 4 otters together interacting on the south shore line! Another record was a second year Iceland gull and also the stunning sight of the ISS overhead at a magnitude of -4. 

A memorable evening/night was had on the 16th April which started with two short-eared owls and two female hen harriers on the open moors with lesser redpolls and willow warbler providing the soundscapes. We moved onto Loch Torr where we had 4 goldeneye with 2 displaying drakes and also 2-3 otters on the far side of the loch. As the light dropped we got a roding woodcock and saw a tawny owl leave its roost site.

Auroral arc with Venus and Pleiades in conjunction!
On our way back to the east we stopped high up above loch Frisa to look in a SE direction to observe the spacestation appearing at 21:55. It was a weak magnitude of around 3 but still great to see again! 

We moved onto Ardmore in low light to listen for long-eared owls and had success within 15 minutes with a female bird calling from the young plantation! Just to add to the spectacle we had a stunning auroral arc on the north horizon while listening to the owl! The sight of venus in conjunction with the young star cluster Pleiades was also immense! We headed straight up to a prime vantage point and observed the auroral display intensify to spectacular levels to produce my most memorable display to date! What an evening, although I worry what I might have missed if I had sat inside a pub instead and had a conversation about politics and the general election...nothing beats nature!!
Basking shark alongside Sula Beag - photo courtesy of Sam Jones
I crewed on a Whalewatch Explorer on the 19/04/15 and we had our first minke whale of the season as the animal surfaced directly behind a basking shark we were observing at the time! We managed a couple of photo ID shots of the whale before we lost track of it. Around eight basking sharks seen with some full body views showing through the mirror calm sea state! Harbour porpoise also seen along with abundant seals and a white-tailed eagle. Another memorable encounter was drifting with the engines off and been surrounded by feeding manx shearwater competing over the food source and producing their eerie heckling calls. An arctic skua turned up and caused chaos with the birds which added to the spectacle. Gannets, kittiwakes, puffins and great northern divers also seen on the cruise to cap off another inspiring day at sea!

Great to be back guiding on board Sula Beag, best memories of my life are on the fine vessel
I will be providing land-based trips on Mull and Ardnamurchan by the end of the month, starting a new business venture with Cain. You can look out for the website launch here - www.inspirewild.co.uk

Thanks for looking...

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