Given the weather over the past few days, its effect on the sea state and our absolute lack of being able to ‘spot’ any whales and dolphins amongst the herd of white horses stampeding across the Minch, we were becoming rather adept at ‘spotting’ the variety (and sheer diversity) of bird life up here in the northern reaches of Scotland!
The skylarks, wheatears, great skuas (one pulling a gannet out of the sky!), great northern divers, great crested grebes, terns, guillemots and a host of other feathered friends had been keeping us company in our doldrums (we’ve yet to see the golden eagles this year) but … they were soon to be relegated to number 2 attractions as we awoke at sunrise (5.15am this far north) to a flat calm sea, a cloudless sky and a mere hint of a summer breeze – always welcome if for nothing else but to keep the midges at bay!
Today we could get well and truly stuck into some serious cetacean watching!
And we were not to be disappointed!
The morning shifts brought us a lone common dolphin only a few hundred metres from the shore, obviously in a hurry to get north. Followed by a few fleeting harbour porpoises, some hungry minke whales, more elusive harbour porpoises and several sightings of minke whales en route to somewhere …!
As the sun hit its zenith, our attention was grabbed by a commotion in the middle of the Minch. The water appeared to be bubbling as we caught glimpses of 1, 2, 3… no, 10 dolphins ducking and diving their way north. They’d obviously found a shoal of fish and were happily filling their bellies with this maritime treat. For over 15 minutes they kept us entertained before porpoising off into the distance.
The highlight of this marathon 13 hour shift was yet to come …
… it started with a splash (there’s a song in there somewhere!) and another, and another, and we were soon to be treated to a magical bottlenose dolphin ‘swim-by’, as a pod of at least 13 Tursiops (a rare sight in these waters) paraded past the end of the garden and off into the sunset. Amongst them were two young calves, sticking like glue to their mums!
This was truly a glittering prize from anything but ‘simple minded’ creatures.
Roll on tomorrow!