Sunday, 14 August 2011

Ship, cloud, whale

Sometimes on the Isle of May you just don't know where to look.

Yesterday evening the small group of us on the island had a little BBQ down by the visitor centre. A dry, slightly breezy evening seemed not too bad weather and preparations were well under way. However the lightly of the BBQ was interrupted by the yell of "WHALE" as there maybe only 100yards off Foreigners Point was a minke whale. These are the commonest whale in UK waters and from the same family as the blue and humpback whales though much smaller, they are under 10m but then when you pace it out 10m is a lot of whale still. The hunt small fish and other creatures that they sieve out of sea but taking a huge gulp of water and squeezing it out of their mouths through filter plates that hang down so leaving them a mouth full of food. But they are fast moving and have a reputation of surfacing once, and then diving for a longtime and so not being seen again. So what was exciting with this whale was that it kept surfacing, doing 2-3 closely spaced breaths before going down for 5 minutes or so and then coming up again. It was long enough to get everyone out to see it. It was last seen heading north east towards Fife Ness. Back to the BBQ.
But that wasn't the end. The cloudscape was fantastic with huge rain clouds moving down either side of the Firth and then a massive one lumbering over the island but thankfully not dropping anything on us. We were just finishing the last of our sausages when the shout "WHALE" went up again and we saw it heading south. We ran down to the South Ness to get really close views of what we thought were probably 2 whales, a bigger one and a little one off the end of the island. Behind the whales and looking incredibly dramatic was a beautiful cruise liner moving out of Leith and out to sea, gleaming white against bulging black rain clouds lit by the setting sun. Behind us the setting sun was colouring more rain clouds and lighting up the Mainlight light with with its own rays. You found yourself spinning in circles to take in the back lit lighthouse, the storm lit cruise ship and the sea lit whales.

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