Magical moments of a Spey Bay volunteer

By Olivia Masi

Day ONE in Spey Bay, I awoke early, excited and eager to get out exploring. Everyone else was sleeping. Walking along the shingle, I saw such an abundance of birds and sat down to steady my binoculars. I was concentrating on some birds floating on the water, when WHOA, a dolphin filled my binoculared vision.

March 2012 found me living with five other ladies, in the WDC volunteer house, Spey Bay. My new roomies included a vivacious red head who would give Ice House tours in her sleep, a bashful baby-faced Mackem, a laidback board babe, an always happy Weegie, and a Blackpudlian film buff. We were very different characters, but shared two particular passions – cetaceans and Harry Potter. 2022 is our ten year anniversary. Spey Bay brought us together and our kinship and passions remain steadfast.

2012 Residential volunteers
Oli’s fellow residential volunteers from 2012

This evening I pottered along to watch the sunset clouds over the Spey estuary. The Oystercatchers came into roost. They make such a fuss as they land, and then within seconds their heads are tucked in, and there is silence. The late-night Golden eyes were still paddling about. As I walked back to the cottage, the gulls were screeching overhead. I noticed a log being swept along rapidly, just a few metres away from me. Just seconds before it was level with me, I realised that the log was actually a very handsome and curious Grey seal.

I started the day with a Shorewatch and was instantly treated to four dolphins playing, jumping, leaping, breaching. Mesmerising.

Morning tea break, we popped to the ShoreWatch point in the hope of seeing a dolphin or two. There they were, playing around with fish. Seven of them, including a diddy one. This morning was very dolphiny.

8am ShoreWatch, one dolphin quietly heading west.

9am, another solo dolphin heading west, though this one stopped to do a bit of fishing at Spey river-mouth.

11am, there was a pod, also moving west. However, these were extremely joyful dolphins. Six adults and one calf leaping about and breaching like I’ve never seen before. Throwing themselves out of the water willy-nilly, upright, sideways, any old ways. They were hilarious. The dolphins came, they fished, they leapt, they breached, they had a calf amongst them. I’ve been here four months and I still squeal with delight each time I see them.

Beautiful Spey Bay sunset. Copyright Oli Masi

I was looking out of my bedroom window when something caught my eye. The most enormous otter possible. He was HUGE. Scrabbling up the bankside and then disappearing into some long grass. The next morning, bird watching by the river-mouth, I was recounting my otter sighting to the team. We suddenly saw movement on the far shoreline. We watched for over twenty minutes as three otters swam backwards and forwards playing. There was a little one impersonating a dolphin, porpoising along up and down in the water. They came really close to where we stood. Watching us as they passed by, they turned the corner, and then, like magic they were gone.

In the eighth week of Spey Bay,
our true love let us see
8 thousand midges
7 dolphins swimming
6 curlew flying
5 gorse bushes
4 chaffinches
3 roe dear
2 bumble bees
and a grey seal in the river