Well, mad March is living up to its name for me! Playful otters at dawn on the 1st and today at least 20 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) delighted the folk of Lerwick for most of the day. First spotted in the early morning it wasn’t long before there was quite a crowd at the head of Victoria Pier, most with binoculars and long telephoto lenses. But such equipment was almost superfluous at that time because the pod was only 50m away at times, giving splendid views. The whales were spyhopping (lifting their heads out of the water, almost vertically) and doing other acrobatics and antics. It was only after about 20 minutes of watching and photographing their carry on did I notice how cold the wind was!
Boats and the Bressay ferry came and went and I would have stayed longer but I had another job to go to at that time. When I came back, mid morning, the pod had moved south off the Knab and some suggested the whales were heading off. I later learned that they had been north through the harbour to North Ness before they went south and wondered if they really were on their way, especially as I saw a lot of splashing and thrashing activity with a sudden assemblage of quite a number of seabirds that suggested to me that the whales were feeding. The whales then turned north again and headed back through the harbour, this time on the Bressay side. I went away again for an hour or two but when I went out again at 2pm the pod was back off the North Ness.
I watched them there again for another hour by which time the whales were in the north of the harbour past the Bressay fish factory and seemed to swimming more determinedly than I had seen them doing all day. The wind now was bitterly cold and, even with hat and gloves on, I’d had enough so left, delighted at my first encounter with long-finned pilot whales.