Sunday, 11 May 2014

Dolphins - One of Ard Dorch's Big 5

My wife saw them first.   To use her Liverpudlian (or splitting hairs, Lancastrian) expression we see dolphins once every Preston Guild, i.e. rarely.  On Friday, late in the afternoon, a small pod of probably 6 animals, swam up Loch na Caraidh, round the headland and into Loch Ainort.   Large animals, - one showed a palish grey flank when it jumped almost clear of the water - they swam noisily past, blowing and grunting as they went, at about 6 to 7 mph.    After running down to the shore, I managed to get a few pictures in the 5 minutes or so that I could see them before they moved west into the sunset.   By the time I had got back to the house and into the car in the hope of following them down Loch Ainort, they had disappeared.  It was roughly 2 hours after high tide, and the water was quiet.  I am pretty confident that they were bottle-nosed dolphins but I am waiting for expert confirmation. 

We have never seen dolphins so early in the year; previous sightings have been in July and August.    It was also odd that they came up Loch na Caraidh even though there is a shallow neck at the south east end (probably no more than 4 metres deep) which joins the loch to Broadford Bay where they probably came from   Dolphins are definitely one of my proposed "Ard Dorch's Big 5", the others being Otter, Pine Marten, Red Deer and Eagle (Golden and / or White-tailed, take your pick), and the secobd most difficult to spot

Elsewhere things have been more predictable as spring progresses. The bluebells are massing to turn fields blue probably next week.    Summer migrants have just about all returned - siskins, stonechats and common sandpipers being the latest arrivals.   A pair of cuckoos have been circling the croft relentlessly pursued by sentry meadow pipits. I am at the stage now where the call is just about getting on my nerves especially at 3.30am after the initial enthusiasm when they first arrived.   Butterfly orchid plants are beginning to show leaves.

No otter activity sadly in the last couple of weeks.   The trail camera picked up nothing, and the paths around the holt are sprouting bracken and bluebells.

Puss Moth

I put the moth trap out last Wednesday near the croft boundary within a few yards of flowering willows and bracken.  Steve at the other end of the village caught a puss moth in a similar trap position two weeks ago, and I got a couple of these rather splendid moths which are associated with willow.   Other species that I had not seen so far this year included  a Streamer, several Glaucous Shears, a Pine Beauty and a Brown Silverline, bringing the 2014 year to date total to 16 species.

Glaucous Shears
Brown Silverline

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