The first week of photo ID fieldwork for the Harbour Seal Decline Project has got off to a flying start here in Kintyre. Despite the persistently sunny days making it hard to get good photographs through the haze and glare, we have seen our first pup of the season!
This is about a week earlier than last year, and the pup looks quite premature as it still has some of its white, lanugo coat which is normally moulted off in the womb. Nevertheless, the pup seemed full of life, swimming with its mum in the shallows.
The mother and pup pair were spotted at Muller Island, where the northern site has had an average of 15 adults hauled out at low tide every day this week. The southern site at Muller Island has seen similar numbers, gradually increasing as the week progressed.
Another site we are monitoring this season, also overlooking Ardnacross Bay, is Yellow Rock. The seals here at high tide haul-out within 50m of the beach which makes our job infinitely easier. The bay has been so calm and still this last week that we can almost do photo ID from the reflections in the water!
Along with the seals, we have had some great bird sightings, including a Great Northern Diver and a group of Red Breasted Mergansers. There have also been rumours of a pod of bottlenose dolphins traveling up the east coast of Kintyre so we’ll be keeping a look out for those!
As much as it pains me to say it, we will be hoping for some less sunny days over the next few weeks to ensure we get the data we need for the project. If this is the case, in the next blog post you’ll no doubt hear me complaining about the midges!
Written by Izzy