I have been reminded again yesterday, that the thing about fieldwork is that one just cannot control all variables. After consulting various weather websites, checking out wind speeds, wind directions and swell heights and conferring with colleague Simon and skipper Davy, we had to come to the conclusion that we would not be able to use up all of our survey days after all, as we simply just could not control the weather (oh well, I’ll work on that for the future). We had planned to survey up here until the 19th of June (tomorrow), but the weather God definitely has other ideas as the weather forecast until Saturday is winds with speeds up to 18mph from a westerly direction making spotting of small cetacean fins impossible. So I officially called the survey over last night. We did manage to do 7 survey days with between 3.5 and 10.5 hours on effort though!
Together with the fabulous Sealife volunteers, I collected the gear from the boat, got it cleaned and stored away, mouse proof, at the Wildlife Centre. That is us done!
These past two weeks went by very quickly and some days have been quite surreal with no cetacean sightings whatsoever! A friend from the west coast who runs wildlife tours there has confirmed that he too found the seas to be eerily empty of cetaceans, so we wonder where they have all gone to…
Before I conclude this blog entry, I want to use this space to profoundly thank everyone involved in the survey (in no particular order): my colleagues Nicola and Laura for all their help, advise, kind words, encouraging smiles, heartfelt laughs and shared space, my colleague Alice for training up the Centre volunteers, my other colleague Alice for giving us her excellent car (that car was a Godsend as it ferried around 7 people!), the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Sealife volunteers Clare, Jenny, Adam and Scott who’ve already inputted ALL the bird data we collected (WOW!!!!), the fabulous Wildlife Centre volunteers Kirsty and Jonathan for giving up their days off to help us out, Jill from SNH and Hywel from RSPB for helping with our cetacean rota and birds respectively, Ian from RSPB for organising volunteers to help out with the bird watching, Simon for coming up from Aberdeen to find out what was wrong with the hydrophone and then coming back and helping out again, skipper Davy for all his advise and endless knowledge about the weather and for bringing us back safely into harbour each day, Iris (who broke her foot! Get well soon!) for all her help, her kind words and laughs and for generally looking after all of us so well! Thank you everyone, because without you it would not have been possible!