^ Common seals seen on return journey
With sightings of a fin whale breaching off Tiree seen in recent days, the ORCA survey team were eager for the day ahead as they boarded the MV Clansman at 7am. The weather wasn’t on our side though, averaging around sea state 4 most of the day, rain, low cloud and occasional fog banks. The team braved the conditions on the back verandah for 2 hours as we travelled up the sound of Mull. Once clearing the island of Mull the fog lifted and we were allowed onto the bridge, briefly, as a technical issue occured. We limped back to Oban on one engine which took 4 hours. As we bobbed around offshore initially we did manage to see 2 probable common dolphins feeding amongst a large flock of manx shearwaters. We had 8 common seals on a small rocky island on our return journey.
The ORCA team were magnificent and cheerful.The Calmac kind ferry team had amazing patience, These things happen.
Marine Mammals seen:
Common Dolphin(probable) x2, Common seal x8
Black throated diver, manx shearwater c700, razorbill, guillemot, puffin, black guillemot, shag, red breasted merganser, eider, kittiwake, common gull, gtr black backed gull, herring gull, oystercatcher and gannet.
Survey team members
Brian Clasper,Charlotte Andrew,Beth Harvey & Sarah Harvey
Only the second leg of this month's survey (Oban-Colonsay-Oban) was undertaken due to logistical issues.
The survey on MV Clansman was very quiet with a sea state ranging from 2-3 throughout the crossing. As always, we were made very welcome on the bridge by the Captain and crew. Unfortunately we didn't pick up any cetaceans on either the outward or return leg. There were a number of manx sheawaters spotted and guillemots and razorbills were also in evidence. A great skua was sighted not far off Colonsay.
Bottlenose dolphins had been seen off Seil Island the day before and we scanned the waters with ever more determination as we passed through the locality but to no avail. This sailing returns to Oban at 9:15 pm and we were eventually beaten by the light and retired from the bridge.
Many thanks, as always to the Captain and crew of MV Clansman and CalMac for fcilitating our work.
Bird Seen -
Guillemot, razorbill, black guillemot, great black-backed gull, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, common gull, kittiwake, gannet, great skua, eider and manx shearwater.
Survey team members
Andy Gilbert, Stuart Dewar, Jane McVicar
Earlier in the week it had looked like we might have to cancel the survey due to the stormy weather but by Thursday we were pleased to see the forecast looking better.
It was still dark in Oban when the team met at 6:30 and boarded the MV Clansman for, the last survey of the year in this location. The sun rose as we grabbed some breakfast in the ferry café and it was fully light as we arrived on the bridge. We’d only been surveying for a couple of minutes when we spotted our first 2 harbour porpoises just as we passed Lismore lighthouse.
A sighting of a lone harbour porpoise and a group of 3 soon followed as we entered the Sound of Mull. As usual the white caps became more prevalent and the sea state picked up as we left the Sound. As we entered the relative shelter of the waters just to the south of the Isle of Coll 3 common dolphins passed by very quickly and very close to the ship. After docking at Coll 2 more harbour porpoise were spotted as we made our way to Tiree. After docking again at Coll we headed back into the Sound of Mull where things were quiet until we spotted 3 more harbour porpoise at the south end of the Sound before finishing with 2 more harbour porpoise at the entrance to Loch Linnhe.
Due to timetable change and the darker evenings it wasn’t going to be possible to survey the whole of the Oban-Colonsay-Oban route.
Many thanks to Cal Mac and especially the crew of the Clansman for supporting our research and making us so welcome.
Kittiwake, Common Gull, Shag, Great Skua, Guillemot, Cormorant, Gannet, Razorbill, Curlew, Redshank, Osyter catcher, Eider duck, Great blacked-backed gull, Manx shearwater.
Survey team members
Andy Gilbert, Jane Dodd, Will Brown, Sarah Harvey