Ullapool-Stornoway

2019-06-17 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-06-17

Number of nights: Day sailing

After leaving Ullapool we were given access to the bridge as we passed the Summer Isles. We found sea state 3 and clear conditions.Bird life was relatively quiet during both crossings but we were rewarded with cetaceans!


Half way across an incidental record was taken of half a dozen unidentified dolphins racing away from the back of the ship at distance. Encouraged by this sighting we soon picked up another four common dolphins racing to the bow on the starboard side. Half an hour later half a dozen more common dolphins showed at the port bow.


The rest of the journey into Stornoway was quiet apart from a beautiful view of a great skua and an Arctic skua crossing infront of the ship together.


The return journey drew a blank until we reached Loch Broom on the approach to Ullapool and in sea state 2 we recorded 4 harbour porpoise, including one calf.


Many thanks to the captain and crew of MV Loch Seaforth and CalMac Ferries for making us welcome and allowing us to continue our work.


Marine Mammals:


Unidentified dolphins 6


Common dolphins 10


Harbour porpoise 4


Birds


Gannet, kittiwake, guillemot, puffin, razorbill, black guillemot, great skua, Arctic skua, great black backed gull, common gull.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Karen Douglas, Gemma Nowrie

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2019-05-13 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-05-13

Number of nights: Day sailing

As always, the crew of MV Loch Seaforth were extremely welcoming and we were able to get onto the bridge relatively soon after leaving port and survey some of Loch Broome. The Wildlife Office had sailed on Loch Seaforth the previous day and had great sightings of Minke whales and harbour porpoise in the Minch but we were aware that the wind was expected to pick up and hoped for at least some porpoise in the Loch.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be and the survey was particularly quiet on both legs. 


Visibility and precipitation was fine but after drawing a blank during the outward sailing the wind picked up substantially on the return. The team worked hard to maintain concentration but conditions were too difficult to find anything. We certainly enjoyed the magnificent sight of the shearwaters, fulmars, and kittiwakes in their windblown element though.  As we approached the mainland the sea state rose above 6 and we had to finish the survey.


Birds seen:


Great skua, fulmar, gannet, kittiwake, manx shearwater, puffin, common gull, great black-backed gull, arctic tern and shag.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Siobhan Quigley, Lenni Sykes

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2019-04-15 - Ullapool-Stornoway

Survey details

Survey route: Ullapool-Stornoway

Company: Caledonian MacBrayne

Sea region: Minches & Western Scotland

Survey start date: 2019-04-15

Number of nights: Day sailing

The team met in the ferry terminal at Ullapool and were soon on board MV Loch Seaforth. The OSM informed us that the captain and crew were happy for us to survey as soon as we left port, meaning we would get to survey through Loch Broom rather than having to wait until we were past the Summer Isles. This was fantastic news for us as the Loch can often be very productive for harbour porpoise.


It had been a very windy few days and even in the Loch the sea state reached 4 sometimes but we did pick up 2 harbour porpoise near the mouth of the Loch. We also had a fabulous sighting of 6 great skuas mobbing other gulls and scavenging for scraps around a small creel boat in the Loch. Plus a golden eagle was spotted over one of the inland peaks.


Out in the open sea and crossing the Minch the wind conditions rose and we didn't pick anything else up. There were also a number of naval vessels operating in the area in the aftermath of the NATO Joint Warrior war games. Despite the wind the visibility was clear and sunny and whilst the ship turned round in Stornoway it was warm enough to sit outside and have our lunch in the sunshine. Bith red throated and great nortehr divers were seen in the harbour.


The return journey was much of the same but with increasing wind conditions which reached sea state 7 as we approached the mainland coast and therfore we called it a day.


Marine Mammals


Harbour porpoise 2


Bird List -


Kittiwake, great skua, black guillemot, guillemot, razorbill, great black-backed gull, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, golden eagle, gannet, puffin, manx shearwater, fulmar, shag, great northern diver, red throated diver, common gull and cormorant.

Survey team members

Andy Gilbert, Alistair MacGuggan, William Anderson

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