It has been another beautiful day here in John O’Groats! Hannah, Anne and I (from the Orca Watch team) hopped on the first ferry in the hopes of seeing some fins. No luck but a lovely round trip to Orkney and we got some more filming done with Antonia and Lauren too.
George and I then drove up to Dunnet Head to catch up with our observers there, Alec and Bill. Nothing was sighted but we had some great fun identifying all the different birds and George managed to snap photos of a few. On the way back to John O’Groats we stopped by Windhaven Campsite and Cafe (10% off at the cafe with our OW wristbands!) to check out the seals that everyone has been talking about. We also picked up some more Orca bird feeders that are available to buy from our Base in John O’Groats!
Our Regional Coordinator for north-east Scotland, Clare Boardman, joined Highlife Highland ranger, Paul Castle, on a timed sea watch at Sandside Head this morning. Clare, Paul and the dozen guests were thrilled to see some amazing views and even some Risso’s!
Kev Barwell wrote a poem during one of the lockdown periods where he, like many of us, was shielding and having spoken to a couple of friends after a ferry trip they suggested he should send it over to us. He says “I think it pretty much sums up how I and they (other Orca Watchers) feel about why we are here. Whilst it’s a privilege to see any cetaceans, it is the people we make the journey, and share our experiences with that matters the most.”
Sightings by Kev Barwell
We stand at the rail, friends old and new, watching the horizon a vast expanse of a view
The hours pass by as we drink coffee and tea, stare on hopefully at a flat calm sea
We chat and we natter as water hits the bow with a bit of a splatter
Telling tales of past trips and what as been seen, some of which most can only dream
Birds start circling in the skies high above, a sign we could see the things that we love
Bino’s and cameras held firm and steady, our hearts start pounding and we’re feeling all heady
All eyes are fixed and then a finger is pointing, then the scream of that magical word SIGHTING
The water breaks with the spurt of a blow, our faces beam with a smile and a glow
We ponder and guess but can only wonder as the mammal that showed quickly goes back under
Eyes fixed once more a long way from shore, praying it will show it majesty once more
Was it a Fin, a Blue or Sei, hopefully we’ll find out before the end of the day
The minutes pass by and some will pray, please show again and make our day
Time moves on and it’s a no show, so eyes all still scanning we have another go
Hours pass by and we see lots of blows, what they were gosh only knows
The day draws to and end and the sky turns inky, then the scream of SIGHTING and we’re rewarded with a Minke
Another beautiful day in John O’Groats and it’s making our daily watches and ferry trips even more of a treat. The sea was very calm throughout the morning and then getting ever so slightly rougher as the afternoon came around. More excellent cetacean spotting conditions but we didn’t have much luck today..
Key sightings update
Nothing to report on from last night.
Wednesday 1st June
We started our day at around 9:15 with a single porpoise seen from Duncansby Head through a scope. There were reports of possible killer whales sighted at Portskerra but they were then confirmed to actually be a pod of Risso’s at 09:48. Orca were reported in Stromness at 10:04 with a Minke seen in Duncansby Head at approximately the same time. Orca were then confirmed to be seen milling at Graemsay and Ness Battery with no direction. Porpoises continued to be seen from Duncansby Head throughout the day. At midday we had reports of two bull orca heading past Warbeth turning north. They were then spotted from Yesnaby still making their way northwards and were last seen at 14:10 from the Broch of Borwick (heading north-west).
Despite the perfect conditions we haven’t had many sightings today at Dunnet Head. We had hoped the orca in Orkney would meander their way down towards us on the mainland and so many decided to board the evening ferry, including myself. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful – seeing no cetaceans off the ferry today with just a few seals here and there.
Fingers crossed for tomorrow!
So not too much to report on today but we did manage to catch up with the Sea Watch Ambassador, Robin Petch who is currently delivering wildlife talks as Whale and Dolphin Man on a cruise returning from Norway. We also caught up with Karen in Shetland to discuss the recent orca sightings there. Watch today’s round-up on our YouTube channel.
Katie Baker Communication and Outreach Officer