Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Whale of a time

Well the 31 July turned into a whale of a day. We headed down to Sumburgh head and looking south and managed to get two views of a distant Minke Whale travelling north. Things picked up in the evening when news of Orcas at Fladdibister saw us set off quickly heading north.

At least 20 cars pulled into the layby on Cunningsburgh head looking over the sound, a police van pulled in, not to arrest anyone but to look for the Killer Whales as well. News came in via Facebook that they were heading down slower than expected so several cars, including us headed up the coast.

We arrived just a minute or two too late as they had just gone beyond the headland heading into Mousa sound. We all met up at the Cemetery at Mail and ran across the beach over the style and up a field to be greeted by heavy rain and no sign of the whales.

Heading back to Sandwick we pulled over to join a long line of cars at the north end which gave great views over Mousa. A RIB with Craig Nesbit (Noss warden) had come into the area and it proved a good focal point to use to located the whales.

After 10 mins we could see the Killer Whales at a distance, at least 4 including a male with a large dorsal fin. By this time it was 21.15pm, dull with occasional showers and at a too greater distance to take any photos. They stayed in Mousa sound until about 22.30 by which time it was very poor viewing conditions

It was the first time we had seen Killer Whales in Shetland, hopefully not the last. It surprised me how many people did not have binoculars, they were all caught up in Killer Whale fever. A lot of thanks must go to Hugh Harrop for setting up a facebook page for people to submit sightings making it easier to find the whales.

Lets hope everyone acts responsibly when parking. Judging by the number of cars that turned up, its going to get bigger and bigger. All we need is a good day with the weather and some close up photos and I will be even happier.

Back down to Sumburgh Head now and it was good to see lots of Puffins close up, in a  week or two the will be departing for the winter. Hope to find out they have had a good breeding  season along with all the other seabirds, seems to be lots of sand eels about with Arctic Terns also benefitting for large shoals in Lerwick.

Further out at sea lots of Gt Skuas could be seen waiting for Gannets to return with fish. The Gannets flew as close to the sea as possible but the Skuas which tended to be high up in the sky dived bombed them, flipping their wings or tail forcing the gannet to regurgitate the fish . All photos at a great distance

This year is great for wild flowers

                                                                                Lion's Mane Jellyfish Lerwick harbour

This species has a powerful and painful sting, this species blooms in summer and  is mainly found in Scottish waters but so far only reported to the Marine Conservation in Orkney & Angus . It occurs in cold waters and is the largest jellyfish. The bell can grow to 2m and the tentacles of larger species can exceed 30m. The colours of the smaller sized Lion Mane Jellyfish tend to be the colour above, with the larger ones vivid crimson to dark purple.

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