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Nick's News: July 2023

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

The month has been characterised firstly by sheer chaos down at Kallin harbour,

where some of the shellfish holding tanks were being demolished and an

exclusion zone was put around the area, meaning Nye and I had to help identify

parking spaces for everybody before every trip.

The first half of the month was very unsettled, with quite a few periods of rain.

Then 15th July was St Swithin’s Day and as the old saying goes, “St Swithin’s Day if

thou dost rain, for 40 Days it will remain. St Swithin’s Day if thou be fair, for 40

days ‘twill rain nae mair”. It did actually rain on the 15 th July, but it cleared up

later, so make of that what you will!

Lots of our visitors reported multiple sightings of short eared owls, which

indeed have been plentiful this year and it reminds us of the old joke “Why

doesn’t an owl call when it’s raining? Because it’s too-wet to-woo”.

We were happy to see the reappearance of black throated divers, which had

been absent throughout June, and once again we have been seeing fairly large

groups of these rare and beautiful birds gathering on the north side of Ronay.

As usual, there has been plenty of eagle action – one day seeing a young white

tailed eagle taking a fish from the surface of the water in front of us and then

having it stolen by an adult from under its nose – recorded on a smart phone

from the deck!

The peregrine chicks fledged successfully and have been flying around like crazy

things. We have had some great otter sightings, particularly in the North Ford, as

we had started going into the bay on the east side of Flodday Island to see the

common seals which have been having their pups over the last few weeks. In

fact everywhere we go we are seeing common seals on the rocks with their

young, what a great life they appear to lead! We have also been seeing many red

deer with their young, and stags with their velvet covered antlers.

A week ago, we were amazed to find four Risso’s dolphins swimming around in an

extraordinarily sheltered bay far from the open sea. As we sighted them, a white

tailed eagle took off from the shoreline and as it flew away, was battered by a

Golden Eagle. What did this mean? We now think that one of the dolphins was

distressed and the others were supporting him, and that maybe the eagles were

spotting a weakness which could have turned into a food source. The RSPB

report “When there is competition for food, the Golden Eagles usually reign

supreme. Being stronger flyers, they will win any battles in the sky. But the white

tailed eagles are more tenacious and have a wider diet.”

We have been seeing quite a few razorbills in the last week, always in pairs, - an

adult bird accompanied by a young chick. Apparently the chicks can’t fly for

several weeks and the bird’s father will stay with them after they have launched

themselves off the cliffs on which they nest, helping them feed and protecting

them from predators. The herons have also left their nesting sites and started

assembling in groups watching us like sentries as the boat goes by.

We are looking forward to seeing what August brings on Lady Anne Wildlife Cruises, and hope to see you aboard as we tour the waters of Uist and Benbecula's beautiful uninhabited coast.

With thanks to Rebecca Douglas and Brian @ for the fantastic images.



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