Thursday, 18 July 2019

Bottle "o" Thon

It was out early today (8.30am) in case the bottlenose were out and about. Indeed they were and what's more they stayed most of the day. Obviously there before I arrived and it was gone 3.30pm when Cliff and I left after a short afternoon session. In between Sophie and the Thursday volunteer crew had spent a few hours having a great show. It was the same two individuals that had been captured on camera on the 13th, a mother and juvenile both of whom are clearly marked so easy to identify. One of them rode the bow of the Mary Anning as it left port for a survey but soon veered off and returned to fishing off the breakwater.

During the morning session two guys and a young boy came out in an inflatable and I have to say behaved impeccably around the dolphins. They stopped well short and observed them and as the dolphins moved away to avoid the very noisy ferry they casually tailed them at a distance not once spooking or interfering with their progress.  Once they'd seen enough they let the dolphins move off before proceeding on their way out toward Pen Anglas. If you guys see this post or if any of our followers know these guys please let them know how pleased we are to see responsible behaviour and the following of the marine code. You set a great example to the young lad you had with you.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Some sightings a round up of an amazing cetacean watchers week so far!

Firstly not a cetacean: report from Phil Horner...

spotted a 8-10ft Thresher shark this afternoon northern side of Strumble  
Head, 600 yds out. Trail thrashing on surface followed by half breach.  
First one I've ever seen from the shore, really excited. This fish was  
massive, similar sized or larger than the male Risso's I occasionally see.
Phil Horner 

Seems likely from Phil's description that it was even bigger as Risso's are much bigger than 8-10 feet although always difficult to estimate size at sea! nice one Phil! Our waters seem to be favoured by this elusive shark with several sightings over the years! This is one photographed by Rich Crossen some years ago off Saundersfoot
Image result for thresher shark wales images

On Monday Fran Eggby and family members spent the day on Ramsey. Apart from having a great day watching birds she also reported having seen Porpoises, a pod of circa 30 Common Dolphins and a very early seal pup! Later she heard there had also been two Minke Whales and perhaps as many as 60 common dolphins seen to the southern end of Ramsey Sound!
coincidentally Sea Trust volunteer Rubina Sherali had been aboard Blue Shark Charters boat and...

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

"Can you see it??
In the centre of the picture is a Minke whale in Ramsey Sound!
There were two of these magnificent mammals transiting through Ramsey Sound today, not the best picture but an awesome sight from the boat! This is the first time we have ever seen Minke whales in the Sound, we were quite excited"

I should hope you were excited Ruby! and well done to whoever got this shot!

As Ken mentioned in an earlier post, Holly Dunn and two of our new Interns have been aboard Swansea Universities Boat surveying between St Davids Head and Camaes Head. On Tuesday in near perfect conditions they encountered Risso's and Common Dolphins as well as Minke Whale! 
With Kens Bottlenose Dolphins Sea Trust volunteers have scored five out of five of our Pembrokeshire "Big Five!" most regularly seen cetaceans! Its early on in the season but things are looking promising for 2019 to go down as an exceptional year, particularly for Minke's!

Wildcat Pelagic Monday 15 July

In warm sunny, near perfect conditions we set off from Neyland around 9 am last Monday for a pelagic trip aboard the Celtic Wildcat organised by the Mid Pembs and Birdwatching Group Sections of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

First stop was North Haven, Skomer where there were plenty of Puffins still in the bay to entertain us with just a few Guillemots and Razorbills.

Then onto Grassholm with the sea state getting flatter all the time. We enjoyed the spectacle of tens of thousands of Gannets on the island, wheeling around and sat on the water before heading further out.

Approaching The Smalls the first Cetaceans of the day were spotted - a couple of Risso's Dolphins which were well seen by everybody as we watched them for 20 mins or more but they kept their distance as if often the way with Risso's.

Beyond The Smalls a small pod of Common Dolphins joined the boat and over 90 mins or so more and more groups came in to ride in the bow wave for a while before peeling off. There were some spectacular displays of leaping from one group of Dolphins though I managed to be on the wrong side of the boat to get a decent shot most of the time!

As the last Common Dolphins were left behind we headed out to the edge of the Celtic Deep and were lucky with a group of 5 or 6 Risso's Dolphins which did not seem to mind the boat and stayed with us for 10 mins or so giving excellent views.

With the sea by now flat calm and glassy we headed back at speed late in the afternoon but had to stop on 3 occasions when Minke Whales made an appearance giving brief but good views with the first one spotted surfacing 4 times.

A great day out with plenty to see - many thanks to Lyndon Lomax for organising a great day out and to Skipper Nick O'Sullivan for a safe, comfortable trip. More photos from the trip here

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Strumble Diary 16/07/2019

The morning started with a quick visit to Harbour village to check the bay for dolphins. None there sadly but I did catch The Swansea University survey boat the "Mary Anning" leaving port with our very own Holly Dunn on board. The university and Sea Trust have been collaborating on porpoise surveying now for some time and with the boat in Fishguard for a couple of days it was too good an opportunity for Holly to miss sharing our experiences of boat borne cetacean surveying. In the first image Holly can be seen standing between the two others visible on board. On to Strumble then and all was quiet as I arrived. Very calm sea and a lovely warm day. To keep me occupied while I waited for porpoise I was taken by the number of Compass jelly fish that were about. Some specimens had very long tentacles stretching five to six feet so were worth recording. Volunteer Rob Havard and a friend joined me later on and we set to spotting anything that surfaced in the race. Such perfect days though do not always favour shooting such small creatures at distance and today the heat haze was making life difficult for the cameras. So today's images are not the best and serve more as a record than anything else. It was still great to be out there though on such a fine day and with the weather due to break this weekend we have to make the most of it.

One fish has a lucky escape

Monday, 15 July 2019

Oh! What a circus! Oh! What a show!

The title, a line taken from an old David Essex hit sums up very nicely the action off the north breakwater this morning. Eight bottlenose consisting of three adults and five juveniles moved in just after 9am. The adults split and went off toward Pen Anglas while the five naughty teenagers played and fed just outside at end of the breakwater. There was lots of dash and splash as they rolled and leaped around each other and several full breaches much to the delight of my better half who had joined myself and Leo today. In all the commotion I spotted one with a fish as I busily fired off the shots. Looking at it later I couldn't believe the size of the fish it had caught. A grey mullet by the looks of it but what a breakfast being easily 8-10lb in weight.
      This had developed into another good session just like Saturday but with better weather conditions but sadly and suddenly they were off. Not just calmly swimming off but speeding off at full tilt. Like five naughty boys who were late for dinner and who had been called by their mother they sped off to the NW where about a quarter mile out the three adults were waiting. Obviously those clicks and squeaks carry a long distance as this was obviously a round up call. I lost sight of them then and had to leave the breakwater for a while. On returning a short while after they were nowhere to be seen so when Holly, the Tuesday crew and the three new interns turned up it was sad news for them I'm afraid. However the consolation was a couple of porpoise which came in close for a short while which we observed before heading off, me for home and the rest to Strumble for a survey. The hardest part of today was choosing which images to post. I hope you enjoy this bunch.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Bottles in the Bay

The plan was an early start at Strumble today so out at 7.30 ish but the sky was a bit dreary to say the least. I decided to have a quick look over the bay from Harbour Village and as I did so I spotted a few Gannets circling just inside the harbour entrance followed a few seconds later by a couple of dolphins underneath them. Off to the breakwater then to see what I could get.
  As I arrived the north wind was increasing if anything and behind the breakwater it was like a November day only slightly warmer. Thankfully in the calmer inner side the dolphins were feeding well with several surges observed as they chased down their breakfast. Over the next three hours they presented some excellent photo ops and I think under the conditions I made the most of it. There was a brief break as they played with a couple of yachts that were moving around but they soon resumed the hunt when the boats had passed. Shot of the day came right at the end shortly before they moved off when thankfully I had the lens pointed at the right spot when one did a perfect breach.

I never did get to Strumble. But there's always tomorrow :o)