Friday 1 December 2023

Orcas (but dipped the Humpies)

There's been a bit of cetacean activity in The Flow recently and I've kept an eye on the local group news channels. Things looked interesting this morning with Humpback Whales seen yesterday and Orcas reported this morning. When I saw the message that the Orcas had headed across from Hoy into Bring Deeps I gambled that they might head east towards Hobbister. These guesses often don't pay off, Orcas are not the most predictable of beasts.

After a drive and a tramp with the hound I got myself perched on an appropriate cliff top and started scanning. It didn't take long to find distant Orcas.

Male Orcas heading towards Scapa.

I was tracking these two and also looking for the Humpback Whales which had been reported from a little further east but at a similar range. Also distracted by weird Grey Seal behaviour, noisily occurring directly below me.

Of a sudden I heard a familiar sound very close, the females and young of the Orca pod had coasted east and were immediately below me. Darn! I'd a good view to the west and had completely missed them arriving. Grabbed a few very hasty shots and rubbish video as they rapidly disappeared.

This is possibly 27 herself, she's the boss of the 27s and had a calf about a year or so ago.

 ...and all too soon they were gone.

Not very good video of the pod disappearing into the distance.

An explanation of this behaviour would be of interest. Every time the swimming seal approached the one on the rocks blew more bubbles. Is this aggression or courtship? Or something else entirely?

Yesterday evening I had a scout around with a torch and camera looking for moths. Winter Moth was the target species, with vague hope of Scarce Umber. It was a bit cold, but I did find two Mottled Umber.

Mottled Umber.

Top notch flash diffuser I used for these moth shots, baking paper roughly folded, masking tape. Hi-tech.

One of my E-M5 Mk11 camera bodies played up a bit recently. Subsequently it's been ok but I'd resolved at that point to upgrade. One of the issues with the E-M5 Mk11 is the tracking of birds in flight. Whilst better than the various Canon compact cameras I've owned previously, including the M series, it is still not the best. I've been on the hunt for an Olympus E-M1 Mk11, still old technology but reputed to be the best "bang for the buck" going. I finally found one I liked the look of on MPB, and when it arrived it looked brand new and the mechanical shutter had been fired fewer than 800 times. I'm still getting used to it as there are significant differences from the E-M5 Mk11s but getting there. The Orcas above were taken with the new camera. Here are a few other early efforts.

Golden Plovers in flight.

Harbour Seal.

The Great White Egret was absent today, but so were the ducks as The Shunan is frozen. I suspect it is stalking around in a burn somewhere.

I came across this bracket fungi today, I need to try to find out what it is.

Time to head to the Danish fungi picture ID site (see side panel).

The hound, not so interested in Orcas and Grey Seals, much more interested in Woodcock and Red Grouse, which we also saw today.

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