WILDLIFE BOAT TRIP – PUFFIN

(Waternish Pt Extended)

DURATION: 4.5/5 hrs | COST: £60 per person

CLICK ANY IMAGE TO OPEN SLIDESHOW

ABOUT THIS TRIP

An extended version of ‘Watch Wildlife – Waternish Pt’, this trip continues on to the Puffin colony of the Ascrib Archipelago, a journey as good as the destination. A seasonal experience this trip will only be scheduled when we know the puffins are ashore to breed.

Departing from the iconic and historic fishing village of Stein, this trip sails across Lochbay to the hillside where the rocky crags provide excellent habitat for red deer and are favoured nesting sites for golden eagle and sea eagles. The lower slopes extend down over small cliffs to a rocky foreshore, through a tumble of native woodland, wild garlic and honeysuckle, to reach perfect fishing ground for otter, which we spot very occasionally by boat.

Lochbay Islands are part of a Special Area of Conservation for common seals, and around the shores there are numerous haul-out sites, which they use for different purposes throughout the year. Common seals have their pups in early June and through the summer months we enjoy seeing them grow up. In the early weeks mum and her pups are often hauled out on rocky skerries suckling for rapid growth as they soak up the heat of the sun. The pups swim from birth and can be seen enjoying a ‘piggyback ride’ from Mum as they learn new swimming and fishing skills. Like all young they have less inhibition and are curious, so often approach the boat for a closer look at you.

We cruise on into deeper water outside Lochbay Islands, viewing the seabird nesting colonies of gulls, ducks, geese and more, as we head onto Ardmore Arches at the outer extremity of Lochbay. On the way we can encounter porpoise and dolphin as they pass through these deep-water feeding grounds. Ardmore Arches is an intriguing rocky structure, one that is home to nesting guillemot, razorbill, cormorant and shag, and of which we enjoy good views. From here, the birds can easily reach shallow reefs and deeper water for a choice of food to sustain their chicks.

Cruising on into deeper coastal waters we head towards Waternish Pt, passing rainbows of waterfalls cascading down seacliffs, and where dramatic arches rise from the tide. We’ll visit colonies of seabirds including kittiwake and razor bills with nests ‘glued to’ unforgivingly narrow ledges, and their eggs and young clasped tightly between webbed feet. Often sea eagles soar above plummeting sea-cliffs on the up current from the cliffs or come to sea level to fish.

As we reach the deep tidal uprisings farther out into the Hebridean Minch this is where whale, porpoise, and dolphin are most often seen. Diving gannets plummeting to feast is a good indicator of fish and likely sightings of gentle giants. In early season cetaceans are transitory until ‘becoming established’ when we enjoy them with impressive regularity. As a WiSE accredited operator, we behave in a manner that allows them to interact with us if they choose, or to carry on feeding uninterrupted. Individual mammals behave differently, some being cautious others being curious and coming close to ‘eyeball’ you. Every and any encounter is a privilege and the mammal’s welfare is always paramount. The species we are most likely to encounter are minke whales, sometimes pilot whales, white sided dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Rissos dolphins. In recent years Humpback whale sightings have recovered though they are still uncommon for us at this time.

Orca encounters with their large distinctive fins heralding their arrival, are occasional but always memorable, leaving a frisson of excitement in the air and much chatter lasting long into the day. By comparison basking shark move lazily as they feed, scooping up gallons of plankton soup in their massive mouths but these encounters are much less frequent and therefor extra special.

From here we continue alomg Waternish Head to the Ascrib Islands puffin breeding colony. One of a low-lying string of islands, this protrusion of hard black basalt rock surrounded by deep teal seas, is where puffins and pufflings emerge from their burrows amidst a blanket of soft pink sea thrift. They make frantic flights to sea with furiously flapping wings which keep these comedic creatures airborne, in spite of their oversized iconic beaks, until, packed with sand eels, they return to feed their young. Between flights, they skid onto the water, big orange feet waterskiing to a halt in the sea, as they pop by to be nosey – much like us, who’s watching who! They really are curious and seemingly unafraid of us, allowing us to totally absorb the moment.

Numerous other seabirds also nest in the archiepelago, and sea eagles and golden eagles nest in cliffs nearby.

The turning point of the trip, we head back along the deep-water contours ever watchful for more sightings. Panoramic seascapes can be enjoyed throughout with the Outer Hebrides Archipelago to the north and west, Dunvegan Head to the southwest and the distinctive MacLeod’s Tables and The Cuillin Mountains to the south.

As we approach Lochbay we weave through the islands, now perceived as remote by many, but, which were once the centre of the maritime super-highway. They enjoy a rich and vibrant heritage and were occupied by Vikings and Highland Clans folk until the early 1900’s. You will see the remains of the fishing station settlement, ‘the big house’ and other small industrial structures from the Victorion era. There are stories of clan rivalry, succession struggles and ‘Game of Thrones’ style murder to hear. For those who become intrigued by the islands, or who have ancestral connections, we offer 2 trips ‘Go Ashore & Explore – Isay Island’ and Isay Island Castaway Day.

When we return to Stein, if you wish to explore more, we suggest you check out Visit Waternish website.

WHEN TO ARRIVE | WHERE TO MEET | WHAT TO BRING

Detailed instructions will be sent with your tickets. You may find our FAQ’s useful.

WILDLIFE BOAT TRIP – PUFFIN

(Waternish Pt Extended)

DURATION: 4.5/5 hrs | COST: £60 per person

CLICK ANY IMAGE TO OPEN SLIDESHOW

ABOUT THIS TRIP

An extended version of ‘Watch Wildlife – Waternish Pt’, this trip continues on to the Puffin colony of the Ascrib Archipelago, a journey as good as the destination. A seasonal experience this trip will only be scheduled when we know the puffins are ashore to breed.

Departing from the iconic and historic fishing village of Stein, this trip sails across Lochbay to the hillside where the rocky crags provide excellent habitat for red deer and are favoured nesting sites for golden eagle and sea eagles. The lower slopes extend down over small cliffs to a rocky foreshore, through a tumble of native woodland, wild garlic and honeysuckle, to reach perfect fishing ground for otter, which we spot very occasionally by boat.

Lochbay Islands are part of a Special Area of Conservation for common seals, and around the shores there are numerous haul-out sites, which they use for different purposes throughout the year. Common seals have their pups in early June and through the summer months we enjoy seeing them grow up. In the early weeks mum and her pups are often hauled out on rocky skerries suckling for rapid growth as they soak up the heat of the sun. The pups swim from birth and can be seen enjoying a ‘piggyback ride’ from Mum as they learn new swimming and fishing skills. Like all young they have less inhibition and are curious, so often approach the boat for a closer look at you.

We cruise on into deeper water outside Lochbay Islands, viewing the seabird nesting colonies of gulls, ducks, geese and more, as we head onto Ardmore Arches at the outer extremity of Lochbay. On the way we can encounter porpoise and dolphin as they pass through these deep-water feeding grounds. Ardmore Arches is an intriguing rocky structure, one that is home to nesting guillemot, razorbill, cormorant and shag, and of which we enjoy good views. From here, the birds can easily reach shallow reefs and deeper water for a choice of food to sustain their chicks.

Cruising on into deeper coastal waters we head towards Waternish Pt, passing rainbows of waterfalls cascading down seacliffs, and where dramatic arches rise from the tide. We’ll visit colonies of seabirds including kittiwake and razor bills with nests ‘glued to’ unforgivingly narrow ledges, and their eggs and young clasped tightly between webbed feet. Often sea eagles soar above plummeting sea-cliffs on the up current from the cliffs or come to sea level to fish.

As we reach the deep tidal uprisings farther out into the Hebridean Minch this is where whale, porpoise, and dolphin are most often seen. Diving gannets plummeting to feast is a good indicator of fish and likely sightings of gentle giants. In early season cetaceans are transitory until ‘becoming established’ when we enjoy them with impressive regularity. As a WiSE accredited operator, we behave in a manner that allows them to interact with us if they choose, or to carry on feeding uninterrupted. Individual mammals behave differently, some being cautious others being curious and coming close to ‘eyeball’ you. Every and any encounter is a privilege and the mammal’s welfare is always paramount. The species we are most likely to encounter are minke whales, sometimes pilot whales, white sided dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Rissos dolphins. In recent years Humpback whale sightings have recovered though they are still uncommon for us at this time.

Orca encounters with their large distinctive fins heralding their arrival, are occasional but always memorable, leaving a frisson of excitement in the air and much chatter lasting long into the day. By comparison basking shark move lazily as they feed, scooping up gallons of plankton soup in their massive mouths but these encounters are much less frequent and therefor extra special.

From here we continue alomg Waternish Head to the Ascrib Islands puffin breeding colony. One of a low-lying string of islands, this protrusion of hard black basalt rock surrounded by deep teal seas, is where puffins and pufflings emerge from their burrows amidst a blanket of soft pink sea thrift. They make frantic flights to sea with furiously flapping wings which keep these comedic creatures airborne, in spite of their oversized iconic beaks, until, packed with sand eels, they return to feed their young. Between flights, they skid onto the water, big orange feet waterskiing to a halt in the sea, as they pop by to be nosey – much like us, who’s watching who! They really are curious and seemingly unafraid of us, allowing us to totally absorb the moment.

Numerous other seabirds also nest in the archiepelago, and sea eagles and golden eagles nest in cliffs nearby.

The turning point of the trip, we head back along the deep-water contours ever watchful for more sightings. Panoramic seascapes can be enjoyed throughout with the Outer Hebrides Archipelago to the north and west, Dunvegan Head to the southwest and the distinctive MacLeod’s Tables and The Cuillin Mountains to the south.

As we approach Lochbay we weave through the islands, now perceived as remote by many, but, which were once the centre of the maritime super-highway. They enjoy a rich and vibrant heritage and were occupied by Vikings and Highland Clans folk until the early 1900’s. You will see the remains of the fishing station settlement, ‘the big house’ and other small industrial structures from the Victorion era. There are stories of clan rivalry, succession struggles and ‘Game of Thrones’ style murder to hear. For those who become intrigued by the islands, or who have ancestral connections, we offer 2 trips ‘Go Ashore & Explore – Isay Island’ and Isay Island Castaway Day.

When we return to Stein, if you wish to explore more, we suggest you check out Visit Waternish website.

WHEN TO ARRIVE | WHERE TO MEET | WHAT TO BRING

Detailed instructions will be sent with your tickets. You may find our FAQ’s useful.

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