A surprise basking in the glory of Autumn.
By Jonathan Biddle
Saturday 21st September 2019: The autumn equinox was kind and gave us one of the bonniest days of the year, blue cloudless skies, calm green seas and spectacular views of the distant mainland and Skye hills. It was literally "scorching" in the sunshine.
The guillemots and razorbills sitting on the ocean's surface weren't quite so sure though as they were already fully changed into their winter plumage. And alas the summer puffins were already far out into their wintering sea-grounds.However, as we sailed out into Stornoway bay it was apparent that there were still plenty of small fish to feed upon, due to the good number of seabirds in the area. Gannets made spectacular vertical plunges, and although it took a while it was of no surprise to find our first pod of common dolphins out in the deeper waters as we headed south. In fact we were treated to 3 separate small pods of common dolphins today, all of them busy foraging for a meal and going about their business as usual. Great to see a good number of youngsters in the mix...good luck to these next generation of ocean dwellers!
A number of lion's mane jellyfish were still around, as well as other summer visitors such as both great and arctic squas, busy harrasing kittiwakes for a meal. Heartening to see that the kittiwakes have done well this year, managing to raise and fledge many a chick in the area. Soon too they will set out on their winter ocean wanderings.
Today we saw both grey and harbour/common seals, both out in the deeper waters and within the harbour. But suprisingly we only saw a handful of harbour porpoise. The surprise highlight however was a basking shark, a mere tiddler of a young one at only 6m long. We enjoyed amazing views as it filtered the clear waters for plankton, even though it remained submerged most of the time.
What an incredibly good way to celebrate the changing of the seasons by watching nature's calender unfold. Thanks to all today's guests for their wildlife enthusiasm! :-)
We still have some trips heading out in September and even October - please check the website or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org for details.