Due to unseasonably rough weather conditions the first day and a half of this trip were spent on land. Luckily we have our own minibus to hand on Lewis so when the guests arrived on Monday afternoon we went up to Tiumpan Head, a spot at the North East of Lewis known for its lighthouse and which is a well-known cetacean watching vantage point. It was quiet but still gave great views of passing gannets and other seabirds.
Tiumpan Head and its lighthouse.
As we were stormbound again, we took the guests on a full day's wildlife watching tour of the Islands of Lewis and Harris. We first drove up to Loch Na Muilne with the hope of seeing the very rare red necked phalarope but with the strong wind they were either hunkered down in the vegetation, or perhaps had already left on their journey south. While there we took the opportunity to visit the fascinating Arnol Black House next door which all agreed was very interesting and worth the stop for a bit of local history. We then headed south towards Harris, stopping off to admire the large whalebone arch in Bragar. On the way south we stopped to see a pair of white-tailed eagles perched high on a cliff overlooking a very scenic loch.
The jaw bones of a blue whale.
Can you spot the two white-tailed eagles in the middle of the photo?
We then went on a very misty and atmospheric walk to the Harris Eagle Observatory where the rain caught up with us but didn't dampen our spirits and only added to the grandeur of the scenery before heading back to Stornoway for a lovely dinner onboard the Monadhliath.
On route to the eagle hide, before the serious rain arrived!
Better weather returned finally and we made it out to sea and headed north to Tiumpan Head initially. On the way we had good views of several groups of Risso’s dolphins.
Risso's dolphin in the Minch.
In the afternoon we turned south and stopped by the Shiant Isles for a quick look at the rafting seabirds before heading to Loch Sealg for the night where we had amazing views of a minke whale feeding with birds on sand eels.
Our guest Lucinda, who travelled all the way from London for her Hebridean Adventure.
Gulls, shags and gannets feeding on sand eels balled up by the minke whale in the main photo.
We went back to the Shiants where we landed for the morning and we got to explore the bothy and the special views of the islands and go beach-combing. Taking the dinghy, we explored the sea caves and shorelines, spotting many puffins, razorbills and guillemots along the way for great views! In the afternoon we explored some more sea lochs including Loch Bhrollum, where we saw two spectacular white-tailed eagles.
At the Shiant Isles looking back towards the Bothy.
Skipper Tony took us for a trip around the beautiful sea caves on the Shiants.
The leucistic shag.
Puffin with reflections on the sea.
Leaving our quiet and sheltered anchorage where we had spent the night, we headed slowly back to a misty and rainy Stornoway, and looked back on a wonderful wildlife filled week before saying our goodbyes once back in the harbour.
Mammals: Common dolphin, harbour porpoise, Risso’s dolphin, minke whale, grey seal, common seal, red deer, otter.
Birds: Puffin, gannet, guillemot, black guillemot, razorbill, shag, great skua, Arctic skua, kittiwake, Arctic tern, common tern, greater black-backed gull, lesser black-backed gulls, Manx shearwater, storm petrel, white-tailed eagle, common gull, herring gull, black headed gull, rock pipit, meadow pipit, wren, oystercatcher, red breasted merganser, red throated diver, curlew, stonechat, greenshank, wheatear, eider duck, tufted duck, kestrel, grey heron, twite, raven, hooded crow, house sparrow.