Monday, 15 September 2014

Gairloch pelagic- the Minch.

A boat trip in the Minch is always fun and with recent reports of Orcas and Sabines' gulls to whet the appetite I jumped at the chance of a place on the Hebridean whale cruise 'Orca 1'- a large fast RIB designed to cover big distances at speed. The weather and sea conditions were ideal- flat calm with good visibility although the light was very flat due to the hazy conditions. Within 15 minutes of setting sail we were surrounded by a pod of circa 500 common dolphins that obligingly played around the vessel providing outstanding views. A short while later we watched a minke whale- the first of 5 encountered during our trip. Harbour porpoises seemed to be every where. Birds were not as abundant as I had hoped but we recorded sooty shearwaters, manx shearwaters, an arctic skua, a possible long-tailed skua and 3 pomarine skuas. Great skuas were abundant as were over 50 storm petrels. Unfortunately no orcas or Sabs. were seen but we also saw a pair of bonus white-tailed eagles on the return leg and a flock of 28 black-throated divers

sooty shearwater
sooty shearwater
common dolphins
common dolphin
common dolphins
minke whale
white-tailed eagle

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Easterlies bring on the migrants.

A few days of light easterly winds in the southern North sea have brought a steady, albeit light passage of passerines. Yesterday I recorded between 50 and 60 individual birds on and around the main deck. Species composition was varied and interesting although no scarcities have turned up- yet! Below is a cross section of snap shots of the more appealing individuals. Fortunately there is also a substantial population of flying insects around and on the vessel, allowing most individuals to refuel before continuing their push south. 
Pied flycatcher
Spotted flycatcher
Tree pipit