The Americans are here! You could hardly miss them as the Minch has begun to see quite a bit of activity over the past few days. Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been too accommodating but we’ve still been able to find some moments of calm to keep up the search for animals.
Tuesday saw a break in the weather (we even had moments when there was no wind…short moments indeed but moments nonetheless) and sighting conditions were perfect! It was gannet central all day today, in any one field of view you could spot at least 20 of them, dive-bombing from one end of the Minch to the other, inshore and offshore – we were anticipating a productive day (as were the gannets obviously).
Apart from the avian displays, the morning was otherwise quiet on the wildlife front but not so on the navy one with one of the American warships patrolling the waters between Skye and Lewis and thereby the entrance to the Minch, and two other as yet unidentified navy vessels patrolling the northern horizon. By early afternoon they’d moved on and the waters became becalmed once more.
Patience and our powerful binoculars enabled mid afternoon sightings of 2 basking sharks and a …(drum roll please)….a very unexpected visitor to these shores, a sei whale, scouring the shallower waters for tasty treats. As the afternoon wore on, worsening conditions and a setting sun meant further sightings were not the order of the day. The navy also made a reappearance and the patrolling began in earnest once again…..they were still there when the sunlight faded and the Minch was bathed in the light of the full moon.
Even with the high winds, and in between the mild squalls (otherwise translated as torrential downpours), visibility for navy vessel spotting has been good! Gaps in the rain (apparently “nature’s way of washing the Scottish cows”) on Wednesday morning allowed us to spot no fewer than 6 navy vessels ducking and diving through the Minch – one minute they were there, the next….gone! No animals so far and even the birds appear to be having a bit of a day off!
Having checked the forecast, it’s not looking good for the coming days however we can but hope that the guts are taken out of the gale force winds currently making their way towards the Outer Hebrides before it hits land this side of Skye. (Not that I want folk in the isles to suffer of course…..but you’d guess they were used to the winds by now!)