Getting back on the saddle, the pleasant improvement in the weather meant that getting out on my bike was too good an opportunity to miss, writes Calum Corral.

Heading off smartly from Fairlie at around 6.15pm, I managed to make it in good time for the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry leaving for Cumbrae at 6.45.

There was no sign of Hamish the humpback whale but I fully enjoyed a sunshine crossing on board the MV Loch Shira, and then headed southwards towards Millport.

The beauty of cycling on the roads at Millport in the early evening is that it is truly spectacular, and feels like your own desert island, with all the holiday traffic away so you can enjoy the peace and tranquility, and so can the wildlife!

Upon reaching the Field Studies Centre, I stopped and reminded myself of the great Scottish Antarctic expedition between 1904-06, where a plaque is erected in dedication.

The monument commemorates the safe return to Scotland of this all-Scottish expedition after an epic adventure of scientific discovery of more than 30,000 miles, returning to Scotland, arriving in Millport on 21 July 1904 as the marine station was held in such high renown in science circles.

Leading the mission was William Spiers Bruce, an experienced scientific researcher, leading a complement of six scientists and a crew of five officers and 26 men.

They encountered a diverse range of wildlife including Weddell seals, sea-leopards, and penguins, with Emperors encountered further south in the Weddell Sea, but the testing conditions on the research mission pushed the boundaries, and the vessel was frequently beset in pack ice.

The scientists put their time to good use during these stoppages, and skied in pursuit of penguins, and one occasion, had to ski for an hour to catch up with the ship which had broken free while they were carrying out this research!

At this point, I thought I better get on my bike as I had a ferry to catch, and managed to ride on past the palm trees in Millport seafront, before blazing a trail onwards towards Fintry Bay.

The small group of geese which are regularly spotted in the north east of the island had been absent the last time I cycled round, but were reassuringly back in position, although there were only three I observed, down from five last year. I wondered if the winter storms had caused some displacement.

I managed to catch the 8pm ferry after my island whizz, and staff at the MV Loch Shira told me that a pod of around 20 porpoises had been spotted on the east side of Cumbrae earlier that day.

Cycling towards the Pencil, the orange skies, coupled with the racing yachts of various luminous colours, provided a sublime view, with Arran in purple towering over the Isle of Cumbrae. A fish leapt out of the water in front of me, and with more seals spotted in local shores, as well as Hamish, there certainly seems to be a steady food supply for our new tourists.