The Old Man of Hoy from the north.
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
Inverness in a day
I went to Inverness on Tuesday to pick up a car (no the Fiesta is still going strong, but it is about to be handed over to elder daughter). An interesting journey, bus from end of track, bus to Burwick, JOG ferry to John O' Groats, bus to Inverness, all for free thanks to my Old Scot card and my ferry vouchers. Thankfully it all worked and the connections were smooth. The bus along the coast from JOG was fascinating, any number of huge castle-houses along the coast. We usually cut out that bit of coast going from Scrabster south. Managed to get stuck in to another Magnus Mills' All Quiet on the Orient Express during the journey, annoyed that I'd forgotten to charge the iPod, so only got about 45 mins of tunes, at least the head phones cut out most of the bus radio-babble. (All Quiet... is a nicely bizarre tale.)
Coming back I put the new (to me) vehicle on the Scrabster ferry. The week before when we'd come back from Arran on that ferry there had been about 12 Common Dolphin around the Old Man, I'd been really pleased with these as I rarely see any cetaceans from that boat. I was disappointed on the JOG as there were no cetaceans and it should be a better route for them (loads of Puffins though). However, the sea was almost glassy, perfect conditions as we headed out at 7pm. Immediately there were a few brief but likely Porpoise sightings, then 20 minutes out two Orcas, one of which breached, a bit distant but good enough. There are two males hanging out in this area and although the views were brief I was pretty sure the one I saw the back of was a male, the breaching one twisted sideways and I saw its belly. A little later two definite Harbour Porpoise were nice. Then an hour out and still south of the Old Man a huge pod of well dispersed dolphin. These were bigger than the Commons from the previous week and there was no bow riding and only one breach, dorsal fins were larger and I saw white on the back so White-beaked they were, I reckon at least 20, possibly 30, very neat. Another observer saw a Minke on the same trip as well and other counts of porpoise were four sightings.