MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report 'MV Balmoral' Cruise to Loch Striven 22nd September 2017

Jenny Ball; Wildlife Officer for MARINElife
Weather: Rain until mid-afternoon with poor visibility. Wind: SW 2-4

Marine Mammals:
Grey Seal 3
Harbour Porpoise 2

Seabirds:
Gannet
Guillemot
Eider
Oystercatcher
Cormorant
Black Guillemot
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull

Terrestrial Birds:
Greylag Goose
Heron

The weather for this trip could hardly have been more disappointing for the passengers. The rain set in as we left Greenock, with visibility declining to the point where we could only just see the outline of the hills either side of the river. Apart from a very short interlude as we arrived at Dunoon, the chilly murky and wet conditions didn't let up until the very last leg of the journey, from Greenock up the river to central Glasgow.

Balmoral Greenock Jenny Ball

Balmoral at Greenock (Jenny Ball)

There were of course a few hardy souls finding sheltered spots around the ship, and one of them reported seeing a couple of Harbour Porpoise near Hunters Quay.  Some small groups of Eider were seen on the water, Cormorant on the old quay at Dunoon were trying to dry their wings, a solitary Black Guillemot sped past, and a few Gannet were flying and occasionally diving.

Once the weather finally improved, we enjoyed the trip up the Clyde towards the city, where the ship follows a deep dredged channel through otherwise shallow mudbanks.  We had hoped to see some Grey Seal hauled out on the rocky shores, but instead saw two or three of them swimming and then diving away as we passed.

Gannet Karen Dick 01

Gannets (Karen Dick)

Shore birds were a little easier to see, with Oystercatcher lined up on an old wharf, a large flock of Greylag Geese on a lush grassy bank, a few solitary Heron spaced out along the rocky shore, with a group of three or four in a stand of small trees, and Black-headed Gull swirling round an outfall.

Despite the conditions, guests were interested to look out for whatever wildlife they could see, and made the best of their cruise by enjoying the socialising in the indoor viewing areas.

My thanks to the crew of the Balmoral for all their help and support.

Jenny Ball; MARINElife Wildlife Officer (WLO)