Well what a season it has been so far! Firstly I would like to reintroduce myself, I am Aimee and I was last year’s residential guide and events volunteer and I am extremely happy to have returned for a second season as a staff member this time round, Scottish Dolphin Centre Guide. I did say I never wanted to leave!
I can safely say that Spey Bay has definitely upped the ante this year compared to the last as sightings of species have gone through the roof (I haven’t personally seen them all, much to my great disheartenment, but there is still time!).
Starting with the largest bottlenose dolphins in the entire world! The dolphins can be regularly seen here at Spey Bay which is fantastic for visitors and staff alike to see. My particular favourite is watching all the cheeky calves breech in unison with one another and on occasion watching calves that are learning to run before it can walk, as a matter of saying. That is they have mastered how to exit that water with great speed and height but are yet to figure out how to enter the water gracefully like the adults and end up doing a tremendous belly flop! It is a privilege to share these sightings with our visitors, memories which will last a lifetime.
Like last year both harbour and grey seals have been seen regularly how there have been two species this year so far which were not seen from here last year. I am gutted that I personally haven’t seen them but our residential volunteers on 13th July saw a basking shark swimming around not far from shore! These creatures are the second largest fish in the sea and can reach lengths up to 10 meters (a similar size to minke whales!) That sighting alone is incredible but it gets better, now here at Spey Bay on 14th June, we, unfortunately, didn’t spot the next sighting however just along the coast at Findochty they were spotted; a pod of orcas. The largest member of the dolphin family, with their definitive black and white colouration and a male’s dorsal fin potentially reaching 2m in height is an awe inspiring sight to see.
Moving on to dry land there is plenty of amazing creatures to spot, only last week at the entrance to the Ice House basking himself on the tyres I spotted a common lizard. Not something you might associate with Scotland (as it’s not that warm), but either way a delight to see, so keep your eyes peeled on a sunny spot for a lizard warming up.
The bird sightings have equally been as spectacular as last year with the ospreys returning once again to catch fish from the river. There is something entrancing about watching an osprey dive and catch a fish, something I recommend everyone must see. The reed bunting, yellowhammer, sedge warbler and willow warbler were all heard singing their hearts out in spring , with the reed bunting and the yellowhammer still singing as I type this blog. The estuarine birds have been seen a plenty from curlew, redshanks, oystercatchers, lapwings, ringed plovers, dunlins and to common sandpipers. Gannet numbers are increasing everyday as more and more come to use the bay to fish, their bright white feathers stand out even when they are far out to sea. Both the common and the artic terns are as noisy as ever, making sure that their presence is known to anyone who will listen. But one of the most interesting sightings so far this year is to two species of skua. Both arctic and great skuas have been sighted from Spey Bay. Arctic skuas are notorious for chasing terns and great skuas are notorious for harassing gannets to gain a free meal.
With all this incredible wildlife around there is always something to see. Why not come to Spey Bay and the Scottish Dolphin Centre and spend a day here to see what amazing wildlife you can discover for yourself.