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The Gairloch Chandlery, Pier Road, Gairloch, Wester Ross, Scotland

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

No-go Terns

3 May 2010

The Common Terns are arriving back from their travels and I and a few concerned others are trying to organise a 200 metre no-go zone around the Glas Eilean breeding colony.

What I believe to be happening for the last two years is boats approaching the island have got far too close; and when this happens all the birds initiate a combined predation attack to protect their eggs and chicks. This allows either sneak predation where the gulls just walk over whilst the Terns are in the air looking for aerial attackers and grab an egg or chick; or snatch predation, where they rise with the Terns and then sweep in and grab their target.

These Terns are declining in all their breeding areas mostly because of low Sand Eel stocks but this is definitely not the case in Gairloch as the last two years has seen success of all the Auks with early fledging because they have been so well fledged.

I've been in contact with the WiSe Scheme and Scottish Natural Heritage and they both support this voluntary code of practice. I have asked all the other boat operators in Gairloch and only Ian McQuinny of Dry Island Shellfish Safaris has agreed to this code so far – so thanks to Ian for this. Let's hope the other "Wildlife Safe" operators will do the same.

Friendly Subs?

3 May 2010

Yesterday we were out in the North Minch searching for the whales when I spotted a nuclear sub heading straight towards us at speed, so I pointed it out and said I'd have to keep away from it for security reasons. Then I dropped the bombshell of the problems with their sonar disturbing the whales and was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of the passengers were already aware of this!

So I said hopefully, because it's on the surface, it may not have it's sonar on. As it passed on our starboard side at about half a mile I caught something in the corner of my eye to port and there it was – a juvenile Minke Whale happily feeding and it came right up to the boat. I wish I'd had my camera out because as it circled the boat it came up directly in line with the sub in the frame. That would of been one for the scrap book!







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