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Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

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Risso's dolphin at surface

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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

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Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

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Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

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Fin whale (balaenoptera physalus) Three fin whales Gulf of California.

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A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

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So Much to See At the Scottish Dolphin Centre – I Don’t Know Where to Look

Well these past few weeks have been a hive of activity here at Spey Bay, there is so much wildlife I literally don’t know where to point my binoculars! Today alone there have been ospreys fishing in the river, successfully I might add too, seals swimming in the Spey and bottlenose dolphins breaching and feeding in the Moray Firth.

Bottlenose Dolphins – ©Aimee Burrows

The dolphins here are becoming more and more frequent, hanging around for longer periods of time and generally being more active; which is great news for our visitors here! Just standing on top of Shorewatch Hill in front of the icehouse I have managed to witness numerous behaviours from tail slapping, fish throwing, spy-hopping and (my favourite) breaching. The immense strength it takes for the dolphins to lift their 4m length bodies fully out of the water leaves me in awe every time I see it.

 

Ringed Plover – ©Aimee Burrows

Having officially led a few wildlife wanders, with a seal making an appearance every time, I am more confident in pointing out species to visitors. I have even gone as far as attempting to mimic bird calls; safe to say I have been given a few strange looks. On my wildlife wander today I saw an osprey catch a fish, a goldeneye, goosanders, shelducks, a common sandpiper, a sedge warbler, a reed bunting, a wren, swallows, sand martins, house martins, oystercatchers, ringed plovers, a greenfinch and a yellowhammer.

 

Reed Bunting – ©Aimee Burrows

The ospreys can been seen at Spey Bay a couple of times a day as now they are parents and have some very hungry mouths to feed. They catch medium sized fish which is made easier with their binocular-like vision and nostrils which close when they dive. Just like a dog that has become soaked, once the osprey has dived, they shake to remove all the water on their feathers. It is not just the ospreys who now have babies though, whilst sheltering under a tree having been caught out by the rain I saw a family of recently fledged blue tits that were pestering their parents for food. There is also a family of fledged house sparrows who are hanging around the bird feeders next to the exhibition, again pestering their parents to keep feeding them. A bit further away from the centre into the woodland willow warblers are enlivening wood with their songs and there is a family of shelducks on the estuary with some extremely fluffy ducklings!

 

Willow Warbler – ©Aimee Burrows

When the sun shone across Spey Bay last week it was butterfly central around the centre. The small blue butterfly has been spotted in decent numbers by a butterfly enthusiastic visitor. I have seen a number of different species around including green-veined whites, speckled woods, small tortoiseshells, peacocks and orange tips. They dance by the icehouse entrance treating our visitors, who are embarking on a tour, to a kaleidoscope of colours. The entrance to the icehouse is also a hot spot for bumblebees, buff-tailed, white-tailed and red-tailed can all be seen buzzing around the flowers. Summer feels like it is starting to take off here now in Scotland with all the insects buzzing around adding colour to the back drop of the Spey. Ladybirds are out in plenty I managed to photograph a 7-spot ladybird hunkering down into a leaf out of the rain.

 

7-Spot Ladybird – ©Aimee Burrows

There is so much to see now at Spey Bay, summer is offically in swing (fingers crossed for some more summer sunshine). There is a species for everyone whether you want to see birds, plants, insects and of course dolphins. Come down to the Scottish Dolphin Centre and see what species you can discover!

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.