Ardnamurchan Whale Tales: part IV
Craig Mackie recounts his final week volunteering at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
It was the final week of my Ardnamurchan adventure and if Hollywood movies were to be believed then this week would be the best yet. Sadly, this was not a movie and although Monday and Tuesday were good days with great sightings of common dolphin and minke whales... Wednesday and Thursday did not get the memo. The rain poured down on Wednesday afternoon leaving little to no visibility, and when it left on Thursday it was replaced by strong north-westerly winds that whipped up the sea.
This meant I didn't get my fairytale ending of humpbacks breaching as the sun sets, and Tuesday was effectively my last day of whale watching. (Wednesday and Thursday can only appropriately be described as "water watching”). This did, however, give me a chance to talk a bit more with some of the visitors to the site. Over the last two weeks there were a few groups who were returned in an attempt to see whales or dolphins as they had either missed them on previous visits or had seen them but wished to see more. One woman, who fell into the first category, was very excited on Tuesday when after three visits she finally caught a glimpse of her first minke, far out towards the Isle of Muck.
It is reactions like this that have made working here so fun over the last four weeks. Sharing the excitement over spotting a whale, whether it is the first time or the hundredth time someone has seen one, is a fantastic feeling and getting the opportunity to spend a month of my time watching for them has been truly amazing. Whilst here I've had some amazing wildlife experiences, some that I have mentioned in previous blogs such as watching Kasey the whale feeding right off the point, and watching the otter munching on a crab just metres away. There have also been a few that haven't been mentioned; like seeing my first ever Scottish snake (an adder!) and watching white tailed eagles hunting and catching kittiwakes.
However, it was not just the wildlife that has made this place so special to me. The area itself is incredibly beautiful with fantastic mountain roads, amazing woodland tracks and pristine white beaches over clear turquoise seas. The people are also incredibly friendly and helpful, and a special thank you must go out to Davie and the lighthouse trustees who kindly gave me my accommodation for the month and made sure my stay here was comfortable. It is definitely a place I will, like so many of the people I have met, be returning to in the future and I look forward to bringing a few others out here to share this amazing place with them.
All that is left is to say a massive thank you to all at the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust for giving me the opportunity. Everyone in the office has been kind and helpful, and all seemed genuinely interested in the time I spent over in Ardnamurchan. It has been a great place to work and everyone at HWDT has helped to make it an experience I won’t soon forget.
It is with a heavy heart that I leave my little lighthouse home and return to normality but I’d like to wish everyone involved in my time here the best of luck with everything they do in the future.