Tales from the Trail: Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
Join us for our weekly blog as we share experiences from sites along the Hebridean Whale Trail - this week Tierney and Milo give us an update from Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.
This has been a very exciting time for Tierney and I. After a fairly quiet first couple of weeks, it's been all action stations recently.
We're starting to see our fair share of miserable weather: Sea state 5 (moderate waves, whitecaps and some sea spray), sideways rain paired with chilling northerly winds and slightly inadequate waterproof trousers making for an authentic west coast experience.
After a few days huddled up against the rain, the sun began to win out. Some friends came across to visit for a weekend and hopefully see some cetaceans- and so began one of my favourite weekends ever.
Friday morning, 10am:
Weather report; Thick fog, visibility less than 1km but clearing
Friend: “There are whales!”
Roughly 100m from shore slightly covered by fog, a dark shape with fins appeared. We presumed bottlenose as they were the most common sighting but we were quickly surprised.
Tierney: “They're not bottlenose!”
Milo: “Are they Risso's!?”
Tierney: “I THINK THEY'RE RISSO'S!”
Milo: “GOODNESS ME* THEY'RE RISSO'S!”
*Conversation altered for posting, words may have been more colourful and very high pitched.
Yes indeed, we watched as a pod of 8-10 Risso's dolphins (including 2 calves) swam past us and began feeding, even tail slapping and breaching. My friends watched on as Tierney and I jumped up and down with excitement for several hours (that is to say, days) after the sighting ended.
To follow that up, on Saturday, WWF (the one with the panda) came along to interview Tierney and I to hear about the Hebridean Whale Trail. We ran through a typical day, how we run our surveys and attempt to involve everyone that visits the point to help us understand more about our cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoise) to aid conservation efforts. We filmed all around the site, including living quarters, our lookout point from the foghorn and all the way at the top of the lighthouse. Neither Tierney or I had been on camera before, but the ladies who came to interview us were professionals and very patient with both of us. It was a lovely day and a really valuable experience talking with filmmakers, photographers and conservationists.
The following Monday, our friend Hamza lent us a high powered scope, promising “You'll see your first minke with this, I guarantee it”. We set it up in the morning and after a little while marvelling at how far away we could read boat names, a minke whale slid into view, around 11km away!
Outside of the watch, we've been settling well into our life in the lighthouse. Our flatmates Jessica, Jesse and Floki who manage the local Community Garden are all awesome, introducing us to friends in the village and letting us pet their dog as much as we want. We've been having weekly movie nights on a Thursday at Hamza's house and getting to know the locals.
We are starting a weekly community watch from Monday 22nd July between 1900-2100 so if you are in the area come join us to sight our amazing neighbours and capture inspiring sunsets. Cookies may also be on offer. Until then,you can keep up to date on all the latest sightings and adventures between now and the next blog post via our social media channels and follow the team at #HebrideanWhaleTrail.
No. of sightings: 10
No. of individuals sighted: 35
Dogs petted on duty: 53