17 Oct 2015

17 Oct 15 - Short-beaked Common Dolphins

After the day on Berneray & North Uist, I caught the mid afternoon ferry back to Uig, Skye. Ideally, I would have had another day on North Uist, but I couldn't get reservation on the ferry for the car on the 18 Oct.
The Hebrides: The regular Calmac ferry coming into Lochmaddy
Getting ready to unload the vehicles
A smaller boat that looks like it will be perfect to landings on isolated islands
Initially, the ferry runs close to the shore of North Uist, before heading out towards Skye
It was very quiet on deck with small numbers of Gannets, Guillemots & Kittiwakes and a couple of Razorbills.
Guillemot: I saw about twenty, but this was the only close individual
Then I picked up a party of about twelve Dolphins coming for the ship. I was pleased to see they were Common Dolphins, rather than Bottle-nosed Dolphins: which are the more regular UK species. They put on a great display including jumping out of the water on some occasions. Unfortunately, we were moving too fast & they failed to catch us. All too quickly they gave up. As we got closer to Skye, I saw another pair of Common Dolphins. I am always happy to see Cetaceans of any species, but the first pod of Common Dolphins put on the best display that I've ever seen in UK waters.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: The initial views were only one or two Dolphins & weren't brilliant
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: Jumping out of the water
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: Jumping clear of the water
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: Short-beaked Common Dolphins are 5 - 6 ft long & only two-thirds of the length of the larger Bottlenose Dolphins. They also have this distinctive hourglass pattern on the side
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: I am assuming this is an immature Short-beaked Common Dolphin given the paler grey hourglass markings
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: One of the highlights of the Western Isles trip
Finally, the headland close to Uig came into sight & we were only a few minutes away from docking. Time to head down to the car deck.
The headland by Uig
I ended up heading for the Loch Garton area & spent a couple of hours driving back roads hoping to bump into a Pine Martin, but had no joy. The following day started off dull & miserable and after a quick look around, I decided I had had a great trip to the Western Isles & would start the long trek home.