Saturday, 5 January 2013

First paddle of 2013

After a run of windy and inclement weather, conditions on the Moray Firth settled to relative calm, with a low swell forecast as a bonus.  Time to get back on the water!

I met up with Allan and Lorna at Portsoy for a leisurely first paddle of 2013.  We headed out of the harbour and turned west, rock-hopping along the cost towards the West Head.  Conditions were pretty much perfect; very little wind, mild temperatures and a low swell which gave some interest without being a problem.

A feature of the day was the number of Long-Tailed Duck (Clangula hyelamis) we saw.  These birds are fairly numerous winter visitors on the Moray Firth, but are normally shy and quick to take flight.  Today most seemed content to allow a closer approach.

Then we came across this female which was clearly struggling to stay upright in the water.  I fished her out and put her on deck - she just sat without struggling and was obviously in some difficulty.  We carried her for a couple of kilometres along the coast to a beach where we could put her close under a ruined croft - above the tideline and away from any passing Gulls.  Sadly, we didn't hold out much hope she'd survive and wondered if the reluctance of the other birds to fly indicated an illness in the ducks.

Having landed our passenger we decided to push on over Sandend Bay to Sandend for lunch.

A small wind got up during the short crossing to Sandend, the strongest that it got all day.  Even this small breeze died away whilst we had lunch above the tiny harbour.

After lunch we headed back around the West Head to Portsoy Bay and checked out this arch.  The tide had been too low to paddle it on the way out, but with a nextra couple of feet of water it was now an easy passage.  It's a strange "disappearing" arch in that it is almost invisible until you're rit next to it.

As the weather was continuing to be so benign we decided to extend our paddle by going a little to the east of Portsoy.

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