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March wildlife sightings from Nick Davies and other news from Hebridean Whale Cruises.

Heading for the Hills

25 March 2008

The Easter weekend is over – very early this year – and the weather has been horrible. Very few visitors around Gairloch and even fewer cetacean sightings – just a handful of Harbour Porpoises.

The Barnacle Goose returned to Glas Eileen with some friends on the 22nd. Spotted our resident Great Skua (white eye) for the first time on the 23rd. The Skuas have been sunning themselves somewhere down the west coast of Africa during the winter months.

This also indicates that the chumming* season is close and we will start running chumming cruises in the next two weeks.

It has been snowing intermittently over the past few days so I'm off into the hills looking for mammal tracks in the snow. Had a few tip offs on potential locations of Wild Cats and Pine Martens.

Fresh prints are vital for finding these animals without spooking them. Got to check out some Eagle eyries as well, so I might be treated to some display flights if I'm lucky.

A New Season Beckons!

2 March 2008

2008 has already brought my 40th birthday, and the day after the celebrations I met with the BBC's Natural History Unit.

This world-renowned team will be filming in and around Gairloch this year and they've commissioned me to work with them as a consultant. Despite the birthday celebrations the day before, I must have made some sense when I met them!

So I'll be spending time this year searching out some of the wonderful and elusive creatures which inhabit this region. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it!

Both the Kerry and Orca 1 are on dry land at the moment undergoing their routine seasonal maintenance. But we expect to have them back in the water by the middle of the month so we can get back out there for the spring migration.

If any Birders are in the area before Easter then get in touch because we will be doing a few 'dry runs' chumming for pelagics. You will be more than welcome to come along gratis.

And watch out for the sponsored water-ski event between Gairloch and Portree on the Isle of Skye (I'll be in the boat not on the skis!). It will take place in late Spring/early Summer. More about that nearer the time.

The Winter Months

1 March 2008

Winter is passing at last. There has been a lot of wet and windy weather during the last four months. November and December were typical and we had only a trickle of visitors.

We continued to run cruises on Orca 1, but often they had to be cut short because of the weather and on one occasion we decided that the best thing to do was stop for lunch at the Badachro Inn.

The Inn is in such a stunning location and it's always a pleasure to berth at the old stone jetty because the huge orange RHIB looks so impressive in a 'how did that get there?' sort of way.

Little Auks – November 2007

There was still some wildlife to be found: a few Harbour Porpoises, White-tailed Eagles and the usual gatherings of seals.

And most interesting, plenty of Little Auks (pictured).

These tiny sea birds, about the size of a Starling, were blown down in their thousands by the strong Autumn winds and we found them all over the North Minch. They are very closely related to the Puffin, with tiny beaks.

Autumn is the time when you can see just about any of the great North Atlantic whales travelling south but, disappointingly, this season we didn't find any – the weather didn't help.

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