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

Heat Up – Terns Down

31 May 2008

The month has finished with lots more hat tricks of White-beaked Dolphins, porpoises and Minkes. The weather has stayed tropical with only one afternoon of rain in six weeks.

As I suspected, not as many Common Terns this year – they are down to about 40 pairs! And we have only one pair of Arctic Skuas this year.

The Shiant Islands have been popular, with one trip encountering a male peregrine hunting the puffins (it was successful).

A Hat Trick and Morning Misses

21 May 2008

Got the first hat trick of the season today, with Minke Whale, White-beaked Dolphins and Harbour Porpoise. Funnily enough nobody else saw the porpoise.

The weather has been perfect for sightings and we have been doing well with the Minkes at last.

The White-beaked dolphins gave us a really good show, coming all around the stationary vessel. I didn't bother trying to encourage them to bow ride as I could see there was a calf in the pod and they were actively feeding.

So I just stood off them and put my camera away. They immediately came flying towards us with slow sideways passes and breaches next to the boat.

I didn't have time to get my camera again but I'm glad, because the water was crystal clear and I could anticipate the dolphins every move – I was able to tell the passengers where and when they were going to appear. It was quite funny watching everyone running from one side to the other furiously clicking away.

These cold water animals are still here even though the water temperature (surface anyway) has shot up to 50 degrees!

On an annoying note – we missed two Killer Whales on Monday morning and then 100-plus Common Dolphins on Tuesday morning! We missed these animals because we didn't have a trip until the afternoon.

We have been trying to encourage more people to go on morning cruises because, with high pressure in control – as it is at the moment – the mornings are often flat calm.

Strong northerly winds can develop in the afternoons which turn the Minch into a bumpy affair and it becomes much harder to find the animals. Often I can only go north or south for passenger comfort.

I know most people are on holiday and like to sleep in and relax, but think about it …

Dolphins Galore, Elusive Whales

12 May 2008

Lots of White-beaked Dolphins have been entertaining our passengers over the weekend. These big and brash dolphins are like miniature orcas. They usually bow ride and turn on their sides to have a nosey at the people on board.

White-beaked Dolphin – May 2008

There has been some concern about rising sea temperatures in the Hebrides forcing these cold water dolphins further north, but I've never seen so many of these animals before in the last 12 years. The water temperature is about 46 degrees at the moment so it's not exactly tropical.

Lots of Minke Whale sightings from the fishing boats and rather annoyingly from around Melvaig and Rona, but we haven't bagged one yet! The Whales are currently moving about a lot, trying to catch enough fish to sustain their huge appetites – we have just been so unlucky with them, but that's wildlife!

We were at the Shiants in the afternoon yesterday when we got a call from a fisherman to say there was the biggest pod of Common Dolphins he'd ever seen – so it's all starting to happen and the weather is positively Mediterranean for the foreseeable future.

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