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Nick's News : May 2024

Welcome to our first blog post of the 2024 season, it's hard to believe we've been back on the water for a month already, and happily in Lady Anne herself this year.

We were saddened  to hear of the unexpected death last October of John Love, a sweet and gentle man who had come out with us on the Lady Anne many times over the years.  He lived on South Uist and would often meet up with his friends on Grimsay to play music and swap stories when he wasn’t away working on cruise ships as a guest speaker during the summer months.  He had worked for Scottish Natural Heritage on Uist and Barra and St Kilda but beyond that I knew little about his professional expertise, and had failed to grasp that his name was synonymous with the re-introduction of the sea eagle into Scotland, and he had been at the heart of a small team releasing and monitoring over eighty Norwegian eagles into the wild spaces of the west coast of Scotland from 1975 onwards. 

Such was his modesty that he would make no mention of this, and merely listen with every appearance of interest as I burbled away to our passengers about the white tailed eagles which were nesting on Ronay and which I had first encountered as a “courting couple” in 2009.  So thirty years after he published “The Return of the Sea Eagle” to great acclaim, here was I delivering what I thought were words of wisdom about his speciality subject in front of a boatful of wildlife watchers!  Rest in peace John, your legacy lives on in the magnificent birds which we are privileged to see on a daily basis.

It has been great to welcome a new and hugely enthusiastic crew member to the Lady Anne this season.  Nye is in the process of taking over full ownership of Lady Anne Wildlife Cruises this year and we have been sharing the skippering duties so far, with Rosie accompanying either one or other of us on all our trips to date.  She says this is her “dream job” and having got a master’s degree in Endangered Species and completed her dissertation on the study of otters we think she is our “dream crew member”!

And on the subject of otters we have managed to watch these elusive creatures a number of times over the last few weeks, usually in pairs, several times with a cub which bodes well.  We have watched golden eagles on many days too, - sometimes perched, often soaring effortlessly.  We know they are nesting in the northern part of Ronay, but not on the coast, so haven’t actually been able to see this year’s nest. However we are certainly able to confirm the nesting status of the white tailed eagles.  We have been watching two highly accessible nests, both of which have two chicks on them which we have watched grow from little white fluffy faces to large dark feathered youngsters in the course of just a few weeks, an astonishing growth rate.  They are around six weeks old as I write this.

We have had some great sightings of black throated divers, just a few days ago a group of twelve providing close up photographic action – very exciting considering the population of these birds in the UK is just a few hundred breeding pairs.

With thanks to Rosie for these fantastic photos.

Check back for more news from aboard Lady Anne in a few weeks time …


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