Monday, 2 March 2015

Whale of a time

Last Wednesday  turned out to be a near perfect day. The weather was sunny, mild and reasonably still so we headed off to Whiteness in the hope that the Pilot Whale was still about. Arriving early we scanned the area where it had been seen the day before, but nothing so I walk along the road to the west.

Reaching the far end of the road I could see some large splashes in the distance and looking through binoculars I could see a large object but it was too far away to see what.


It was not coming any closer so I turned back and met up with Jim Nicholson who had seen nothing, the same with George Graham who had just arrived and had parked next to the grave yard. After a short look around we set off to go north but just at the last spot where we could see the Voe I spotted a large fin on the other side  WHALE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reaching Nesbister and the large white house, the Pilot whale showed again but it had gone back into the middle of the Voe and stayed there throughout. The whale had been present since Saturday so it was surprising that it was still about, today Wednesday being the 5th day. Yesterday Brian Gray managed some close photos, but trying to photograph any whales is difficult as they only surface briefly and you never know where it will come up.

This one seem to work the same spot, surfacing twice quickly before a long dive and then moving sometimes a considerable distance.
For most of the time only the fin showed but just every now and then some of the body would show. Some people have said it may be ill but it seem to have plenty of energy and moved freely. It may have been part of a pair, one was washed up at Ireland near Bigton a few days ago, looking very white in  colour so would have been dead for a few days before it was found. So in fact it may have been in morning for its partner, after all these are very intelligent mammals

We then drove north passing the site where multiple turbines will be sited, what a shame as it is a superb valley. We arrived at our next destination this time to look for Otters but despite a two hour search none could be found, although it looked an ideal spot with plenty of fresh otter spraints, although on this occasion the tide was going out, not the best time.

Although we didn't go birding we did see the following:
Iceland Gull, Whooper swan, Greylag, Raven, Hoodie, Starling, Sparrow, Wren,Twite, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Long Tailed Duck, Red Breasted Merganser, Eider, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Kittiwake, Common Gull, GTBB, Herring Gull, Fulmar, Curlew, Turnstone, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpiper ,Snipe, Rock Dove, Rook, Wood Pigeon, Shag, Black Guillemot, Gannet, Rock Pipit, (36 species)

Pilot Whales grow up to 6.7 m (male) and 5.7 m (Female), they can be long lived estimated at around 45-60 years. Long Finned Pilot Whales are the ones found around our shores and the young usually stay with their parents. Mass stranding of this species are common and if one is sick they strand together, such is the bond. They normally feed on squid and other fish.

This species is frequently killed by the Faroe islands and Norway, with the meat exported to Japan. Often meat contains lots of contaminates

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