Zuza Expeditions |
Outer Isles & St Kilda
Outer Isles & St Kilda
Guests join Zuza in Oban at around 1600 on the first day of the cruise. Our departure shortly thereafter will see us cruise leisurely up the Sound of Mull for a night in Tobermory or possibly Loch Sunart, dinner will be served whilst we are on anchor.
The itinerary is dependent on weather – balancing shelter with reaching our preferred destinations – but may include, for example, some of the following destinations: Mull, the Small Isles (Rum, Canna, Eigg and Muck), Skye, Coll and Tiree in the Inner Hebrides. In the Outer Hebrides possibilities include Barra Head, Mingulay, Pabbay, Sandray and Vatersay, North Uists and possibly Harris. We will aim to spend a day at the lovely low lying Monachs (or Heisker as it is known) and explore these wonderful islands with their seabird and huge grey seal colonies, acres of flat sandy beaches and interesting archaeological remains. If weather conditions allow we’ll also make the dash to St Kilda and explore this remarkable archipelago.
A typical itinerary on this trip is; outbound north to Loch Eport, through the Sound of Harris to St Kilda, returning via the Monachs through the Sound of Barra and then south to explore the Sheep Isles (Mingulay, Pabbay, Barra Head).
Expect sea and golden eagles, cetaceans (such as dolphins, minke whales and basking sharks) and seabirds such as gannets, guillemots, terns, skuas and razorbills.
On the final day we will return to Oban having breakfast there before your departure.
Wildlife Highlights Enjoyed Previously
Cetacean encounters most commonly with Minke, Humpback’s are a less frequent visitor, occasional sightings of Fin and Sperm whale – the Hebrides have a resident Pod of Orca and the area is occasionally visited by an Icelandic pod – frequent encounters with Common, Bottlenose & Whitebeak dolphins, Risso & Whitesided dolphins are also occasionally sighted – Basking sharks have been scarce the last few years but are still seen and seem to be returning, we know the hot spots!
Birds of prey like Buzzards & Kestrel are widespread, with Sparrowhawk and Peregrine needing more patience & luck is needed to see the diminutive Merlin – Black Guillemots (known as Tysties) in their striking plumage – Rasping Corncrake heard and sometimes seen if we’re lucky, in Flag Iris beds or traditional hay meadows – Smart Dippers & Grey Wagtails bobbing along stream sides – Strikingly plumaged Red & Black-throated Divers on sealochs, with Great Northern Divers in spring in their velvety summer finery – Responsible viewing of Golden & Sea Eagles as they afford privileged views on their territories, hunting for prey to feed their chicks in spring, with sightings of fledged young ending the season – Charming Eider Duck creches of ducklings – Fulmars with their highly effective & pungent nest defence – Snowstorms of Gannets at their colonies on St Kilda or plunge diving for food on the open sea – Hooded Crows, strikingly different from their southern cousins – Haunting calls of breeding waders on the Machair, meadows and moorlands, with significant numbers of Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Snipe, Redshank, Ringed & Golden Plover, Oystercatcher & Lapwing – Spectacular wing-clapping displays of raptors like ghostly Short-eared Owls & sky-dancing Hen Harriersover their moorland breeding grounds – Kittiwakes calling their names at breeding colonies or roaming the Minch on feeding sorties – Our colony of Leach’s Petrels at St Kilda is more elusive but Stormies are regular as we cross the Minch or on the approach to St Kilda – Rum’s massive Manx Shearwater colony allows incredible views as they raft offshore around the Small Isles or shear the waves in feeding parties – Incredibly acrobatic Ravens giving everything else in the sky a flying lesson – overwhelming sight, sound & smell of seabird colonies with their breeding Puffins, Guillemots & Razorbills – Skuas, both Artic and Bonxies,vigorously protect their young on islands or shadow the ship, parasitizing other seabirds of their food – scattered colonies of sensitive breeding Arctic and Common Terns – and of course, St Kilda’s unique Wren.