The Safari is in a tiz about Lions, or more specifically the pre-planned psychopathic murder of one particular Lion, no doubt his young offspring will be killed by another male so not just one Lion killed by a numpty American who's ego and wallet are sadly rather larger than his number of brain cells but a whole dynastic gene pool - in a species that's beginning to really struggle - marvelous. We've read somewhere that although their numbers are larger than those of tigers they're actually more endangered because of their social structure, not sure how true that is but it sounds plausable. It's about time the whole sordid business of canned trophy hunting was brought into the spotlight...who in their right mind would want to kill a Giraffe but they do, absolutely sickening.
There has been a huge worldwide response on the social media and no doubt many of those battering the keyboards in indignation (and rightly so) will have been from this country where another iconic and majestic predator is being illegally hunted to extinction (in England), albeit a less well known one than Lions, by similar folk with egos and wallets larger than their combined number of brain cells. Still a little short of the 10,000 required to get a fobbing off response from government...come on folks get your digital pens out and sign up before they're all gone. FIVE males mysteriously disappeared in the hills to our east this spring resulting in the deaths of any eggs/chicks their females might have been sitting on. OK so it could have been the poor weather as we believe no chicks fledged on the Isle of Skye this year but we'd hazard a guess none of the males went missing either they just couldn't find enough food. Conversely the Isle of Arran had at least 70 fledglings. Sign your lives away please or you'll be very lucky to have the opportunity to witness the wonderful and spectacular sight of a Hen Harrier quartering the coastal marshes or moorlands near you. The people doing this illegal killing believe they're above the law and will continue to do so until enough of us tell them it's totally unacceptable and we've had enough of losing our Hen Harriers and paying extra in our water and insurance bills (what happened to the polluter pays principle?), not to mention all the other wildlife carnage that goes on in the scorched earth policy of driven grouse shooting...seen any Peregrines in the uplands recently, when's the small population of Golden Eagles going to establish itself in England? Oh it can't - they aren't 'tolerated'!
Rant over, your safe to come out now.
This morning we had a quick but productive look at Patch 2. There were Sandwich and Common Terns, both adults and juveniles of both species, fishing very successfully not far out in front of us, looked like small Sprats or Smelt rather than Sand Eels they were catching. Much further out yesterday's shoals of fish still gave their location away by the hoard of Gannets and gulls above them but they were even further out than yesterday and there was much more haze so no chance of spotting anything mammalian. We did see a Grey Seal much closer too shore though. It was while we were watching the seal we saw a distant bird fight commotion above it, a pale phase Arctic Skua was giving some gulls a fair bit of grief over the river channel - good to see them back!
Five Dunlin whipped past just behind the surf and in the far distance we saw several small flocks of Common Scoters numbering no more than 100 altogether.
By lunchtime the wind had picked up a bit and continued to make looking for any cetaceans hard work in the choppy conditions. We were ably assisted by a couple of volunteers who refound the Grey Seal and were able to show it to a passing family. The fish shoals were now right on the very hazy horizon, so far out we could only tell which dots were Gannets by their plunge-dives. There was something going on out there as every so often the flock would move quickly to another spot and a whole heap of Gamnets would dive together, something was forcing whatever species of fish they were taking nearer to the surface and into range.
We found a second Grey Seal this one much further out than the first gave but with little happening after a good hour and a bit we had to leave and return to our desk.
Back at Base Camp we saw we'd missed a message from our Extreme Photographer down in South West Wales. He'd been out on his work travels and come across these little monkeys living the high life on some plumbing pipes.
Where to next? More sea staring tomorrow, it's still going to be windy which means choppy though. The forecast for Friday and the weekend looks a bit more promising...but it can all change in an instant here!
In the meantime let us know who's sitting pretty on the pipes in your outback