What an ideal spot to sit and enjoy a drink, a piece of cake, take in the stunning view, and watch the wildlife. Whilst we sometimes see dolphins and otters in the water, the most common sight are the seals.
Its not unusual to see them jump right out of the water, swim a little, and jump again.
The most jumps we have seen by one individual in succession is five.
They are very curious creatures and will often be seen intently watching activity on the shore.
As their curiosity gets the better of them their head and shoulders can rise quite high out of the water to get a better look, this is known as ‘spy hopping'.
Dolphins and Killer whales practice the same technique.
There are two types of seal found on the West Coast of Scotland, the Common seal, and the Grey seal.
While the Grey seal is quite numerous and can be found all around the British coast, the Common seal is rarely found outside of the West coast of Scotland, Orkney and the Hebrides.
Recent conservation numbers estimate that there are over 120,000 grey seals in Britain, but only 55,000 Common seals. Most located on the Scottish coasts.
The Common seal, or ‘Harbour seal’, is smaller than the Grey and has a rounder dog like face with a black dog shaped nose. The nostrils are in a V shape that almost touch at the bottom. They are very variable in colour, from blonde, tan or black, but generally they are grey with dark spots.
Each individual seal has a unique spot pattern, with an underbelly that is generally lighter. The body and flippers are short, with a rounded head.
Like grey seals, they feed on fish, but also eat squid, whelks, crabs and mussels.
When not at sea Common seals are found laying out on rocky outcrops and beaches.
They have two favourite spots for resting that can be seen out of our window.
One directly in front of the windows on the opposite shore, the other off to the right on the rocks on the closest shore. There can be as many as twenty or thirty seals resting here at one time.
Female Common seals have a single pup, born around June to July who can swim after only a few hours of being born. Seals suckle from their mothers who produce a very rich milk to help them quickly gain weight.
Its been known for Common seals to operate a nursery system, where older females watch over the young ones while the mothers quickly take time to feed in the loch on fish before returning to the pup.
We often watch the young ones that gather around the haul out area soon getting bored with lying about in the sun, they sneak off to play and can be seen chasing, splashing and jumping about in the water while the parents lazily watch from the rocks.
When out of the water, adult Common seals sometimes hold their body in a curved banana position, with their head and tail both in the air at the same time. It is said this is an action denoting pleasure and contentment. This action is very common with the seals you see out of our windows. We can only presume we have a colony of very content and happy seals.
The grey seal is the much larger of the two UK seal species. If you look at their head you’ll see how they got their scientific name Halichoerus grypus – it means hook-nosed sea pig!
Unlike the dog faced Common seal, the Grey seal has a protruding forehead and large bulb like nose.
The nostrils on the grey are wider apart than the common seal and almost run parallel instead of meeting at the bottom. Like the common seal they spend most of their time out at sea feeding on fish returning to their favourite spots on land to rest. Unlike the Common seal who can be often seen in harbours or close to human occupation, Grey seals are a little more reticent and nervous about being around humans, and often choose haul out sites that are quieter and more isolated.
Grey seals give birth to fluffy white pups in the autumn. These pups stay on land until they have lost their white coats and trebled their body weight.
Despite numbers dropping to only 500 in the early 20th century, it's estimated that there are now more than 120,000 grey seals in Britain, representing 40% of the world's population and 95% of the European population. Their average lifespan is 30-40 years.
Seals are protected in Britain under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970.
To get really up close and personal with the seals, visit Dunvegan Castle who have
'seal boats' that will take you within a few meters of these amazing creatures.