They say it’s a sign of getting old when you get obsessed by the weather but it’s also a trait of us cetacean researchers – so forgive the constant meteorological updates but it’s kind of all consuming at times! The varying (but awfully nice…gentle on the ears kind of sounding) voices of the Stornoway coastguards are our regular link to the Met Office, although it is rather general as the Minch is lumped in with everywhere from South Uist to the Butt of Lewis, which if you know the area (or get a map) will know that this is a rather large area. But they tend to be fairly spot on and of course the lilting utterances are compelling so we’ll stick with them for the time being! (We do of course check other weather forecast sources, like for example the good old BBC – although I have to say that there does tend to be a wee bit of biased towards that place called England when it comes to their maps….I know there’s a lot less people up here but we do still care if its going to rain or shine).
Well it’s been porpoises a-plenty of late, although interestingly we’re only seeing them in groups of one, possibly two individuals at a time. Always close to shore and as cryptic as ever, hiding behind waves and wavelets, they’re not fussy! After some discussions and much brow-furrowing, we can update you on the reason for the porpoise behaviour noted in a previous blog…..the animals in question were calving!! Witnessing a porpoise birth, quite an honour!
The odd seal has also been spotted sunning itself on the surface, both grey and common, although not in any great number but I’m guessing that’s not what the fish farmers will say!!
After a few days of none, we were treated to a minke whale this evening, its graceful and languid roll as it broke the surface, leaving hardly a wake behind it before it ventured off into the deep in search of dinner. And with the arrival of the infamous midges the red deer are on the move. On up to higher ground to escape the wee biting bugs…..smart thinking if you ask me!
Another few updates for you now: -
1) The pictures from our bottlenose dolphin encounters are now with the team (also known as Barbara) at the University of Aberdeen’s Lighthouse Field Station for comparison with the catalogue from the Moray Firth.
2) I’ve finally managed to spot that elusive and vocal (I appear to have a things about voices today, I do apologise) cuckoo…..however both times I’ve been without a camera so have no proof – take my word for it…please! The second time he/she was minding its own business sitting on a fence post singing away, when it was ambushed by a bunch of “wee brown birds” (remember, ornithologist I am not) dive-bombing its head and nipping its tail.
3) Kila’s secret ecosystem has been discovered by us humans and we’re hoping the tick problem is finally under control. We also had the unenviable task of removing a slow-worm from her the other day.
4) As far as we know the T-Pod (acoustic equipment) is still there!
And with this we shall leave you…..with another stunning Hebridean sunset….Enjoy!