The open waters between the Scottish mainland and the Outer Hebrides are one of Scotland’s top destinations for pelagic birds.
Based in Gairloch, we are the only operator in north west Scotland to run specialised pelagic birding cruises in these magical Hebridean waters.
Species you can find here include (amongst many others):
Shearwaters (Great, Cory’s, Manx and Sooty).
Petrels (Storm & Leach’s).
Skuas (Arctic, Long-tailed, Great and Pomarine).
Gulls (most common species plus Sabine’s, Iceland and Glaucous).
These birds are so numerous they are routinely seen on our offshore cruises. The photographs on this page are samples of the many pictures taken from our boats without the aid of chum. Note the unusual photograph (below) of Great Shearwaters on the water.
And of course there is always the chance of the unexpected – rare gulls, Phalarope, even an Albatross!
We use chum* in key locations.
This normally results in close encounters with birds which are otherwise hard to see and photograph. Gone are the days of flashing glimpses from windy headlands!
We operate Pelagic Bird Cruises during the spring and autumn.
Spring cruises are available between late April and the end of May. Autumn cruises begin in late August and run throughout September. Cruises at other times of year may be available on request.
We are always pleased to advise and assist you with the planning of your cruise and your trip to Gairloch.
We can often adapt your cruise to meet the specific requirements of your group.
If required, we can arrange accommodation in Gairloch, meals for your group (including packed lunches or buffet on your cruise), and advise on transport between Gairloch and Inverness.
Inverness has excelllent air, rail and road links with the rest of the UK.
We do not feed the birds. The chum is an attractant, designed to bring birds close to the boat. Our recipe uses predominantly organic ingredients including Herring (waste from local fishermen) which is fermented until it releases a potent vapour attractive to pelagic birds.
Vegetable oil is added to aid dispersal of the chum on surface currents (please note: we do not use cheap Palm Oil – we oppose the deforestation caused by mass production of this oil!). As the oil floats away from the boat it releases the chum’s vapours into the air.
Other ingredients are added when the chum is made. We keep most of these secret, although they do include bran and popcorn to help bind, bulk and float the chum.
We carry the chum on board in frozen blocks which are hung over the stern of the boat in key offshore locations. The slow defrosting of the blocks gives the perfect slow release of vapours.
Different locations are used for chumming, depending on wind direction and tidal movement, including waters off the north coast of Skye where currents are strongest and disperal is maximised.