Thursday morning brought fine weather and gentle sea conditions for our first trip of the season out on MV Monadhliath, with an enthusiatic group of students from the University of Highlands and Islands from Fort William. We were only able to make a shortish trip out into Stornoway Bay due to onward travel commitments, however, we were treated to some stunning views of the Hebridean coastline and some good "early season" wildlife treats, before the sea temperature and food abundance reach their highest levels later into the season.
It was good to see parties of gullemots in both winter and summer plumages, as well as razorbills back in the area after spending their winters further offshore. Also back from the the high seas were delightful fulmars and kittiwakes who return to their cliff colonies for a pre-season inspection, before later dispersing back to open sea on a pre-breeding feeding forage to get their energies together for the trials of rearing chicks. It is a privilege to watch the seasonal cycles of the natural world unfold. Resident shags were also out fishing, as well as a handful of patrolling gannets donning their majestic adult plumage.
A highlight was a distant but good view (due to its awesome size) of an adult white-tailed sea eagle. A couple of buzzards and several ravens were also seen. We were treated to some great views of grey seals both hauled out on land and in the water. Although relatively abundant in British waters, Scotland holds the largest population of this globally scarce species. Back in the harbour bay were a pair of red-throated divers and a black guillemot. A bonny day to start the season off!
Why not join us on board this year for your own wildlife watching adventure - just click on our Home Page to find all the details!