In this week's report Jeremy will tell something about the stranding of two Cuvier Beaked whales on Islay's Coast. Earlier in the week Ian Brooke already mentioned the strandings on his blog. A few weeks before that another whale was stranded near Port Ellen, in this case it whas a Minky whale. I have tried to find some background information about whale strandings in Scotland. A report from March 2005 published by the BBC shows that whale strandings have doubled in the last ten years. According to that same report it is blamed by an increase in fishing activity, which it says leads to more "by-catch". This can occur when dolphins or whales chase fish into giant nets, where they then get entangled in the gear. Of course these stranding can also occur due to natural events according to that same report.
In the case of the Cuvier Beaked whales that stranded on Islay there could be something else involved. According to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust their favourite pray could have something to do with it as well: "Since their major prey is squid they will swallow things which resemble a swimming squid, such as plastic bags. These are known to get stuck in their gut and eventually cause their death. A Cuvier?s beaked whale washed up on Mull, off the west coast of Scotland had been killed by the enormous amount of black plastic from silage and haylage bags, which it had ingested." Strandings of Cuvier Beaked whales are however seldom and another report by the BBC gives the following information: "A species of whale seen only twice in the past 25 years in Hebridean waters has washed up dead on the north west coast of Mull. The Cuvier's beaked whale was spotted by a farmer on a beach on his land, west of Torloisk. Scientists said the species is rarely seen along the Scottish coastline and offers significant research potential. Strandings of Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) are comparatively rare, with only 16 reported stranded in western Scotland during the last 85 years." Continue reading.....This weeks Islay nature report by Jeremy Hastings from Islay Birding: With the weather dramatically changing this week we were able to witness quite a lot of exciting and interesting happenings and movements. Two Curvier Beaked whales had been found on the west coast ? One at Saligo the other, a female, at Machir Bay. There were plenty of Curlews and Oystercatchers feeding on the lower fields between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich but no Otter! On the Rhinns I had Merlin, Kestrel, Hen Harrier and Chough mainly over the wee crofts on the west coast. Ravens tumbled and showed off doing the nuptial flights - a fantastic sight especially against the blue sky and sea. That was present on Tuesday morning. The sun was also shining ? quite a delight!
And the weather became even better on Wednesday ? if fact so much so the homeschool went on a whale hunt and found the second Curvier?s Beaked at Machir. Also, in different parts of the Rhinns and Gorm, we had several Chough, Merlin ? four altogether and a Kestrel. The weather became worse before improving on Friday and again I was in the woods but on the way, with my friend (a crofter) who was telling me about a couple of Snow Buntings (picture) we stopped and they were in amongst a pile of Finches feeding in some silage. Fantastic. Mistle Thrushes once again outside the coppice, Chough too and a Buzzard hanging around and mewing.
Saturday saw me and brian palmer out training on the bicycles. Still had time to bird despite the strong wind which tired to keep our heads down. Chough at Traigh an Luig, White fronts and two Whoppers at Knocklearoch and Barnies in all sorts of places and then a huge flock of finches I saw a set of very white wing markings and had thought about stopping ? another Snow Bunting perhaps? but the wind was too strong, they had been blown away and we had miles to get in!. Along the loch Indaal there are plenty of waders, Bar Tailed Godwits, Curlew, Oystercatchers and our two Chough, that we clocked at the start of the ride. On today?s VC Ardbeg club ride I saw a Brambling at Mulindry. Slowly a sea har crept in from the South West and visibility is now, as I write, pretty poor! Hopefully next week will be brighter again.
Greetings from a sea har covered Islay