Friday, 19 September 2014

Hard Times at Sea

Back in June, the Diary commented - here - on the apparent fall in gannet numbers off Ardnamurchan, but was reassured by a comment from a very experienced naturalist who said he'd seen plenty.  Despite this, as the summer draws to an end the numbers have remained low.  Walks along the cliffs on the north coast, where this picture was taken, are frequently gannet-less and, while there have been groups diving for fish in the Sound of Mull off Ormsaigbeg, the only time we saw more than two or three was during the unseasonable storm in mid-August.

The situation with the local shags appears, if anything, to be even worse.  We see hardly any off Ormsaigbeg and, on a visit to the north coast near Sanna, we were quite excited to see this pair.  The situation looked a little better....

....towards the end of August when we spotted this group off Rubha Aird Druimnich, to the east of Eilagadale, and....

....when this larger group flew past later in September, but the numbers are definitely down this year.

The mackerel have done fairly well, and we had, at one point, millions of sprats in the bays - see Kilchoan Early Bird's picture, here - which suggest that the fish are out there.  We don't do annual counts or anything of that sort, so the 'feeling' we have that numbers have fallen may be mistaken.

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