Sunday, 5 April 2020

Sunday Sea Birds: Gannets (part 1)

The following post was made with images trawled from the archive of our/this WinW blog ,a really fascinating historical digital document.
Many thanks to Ken and Rich,(again!)

Images 1.2.3.© Ken Barnett/Sea Trust 4.© Rich Crossen/Sea Trust

Sunday Sea Birds: Gannets (part 1)
There are few Seabirds around our coasts that can match the Gannet in either physical size or sheer magnificence.
Here in Pembrokeshire where they are a relatively common sight,, we probably take them a bit for granted. But as a cetacean enthusiast, they have an extra special value to me. On many, many occasions, they have shown me where the cetaceans are!
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 Of course cetaceans and Gannets are both fish eaters.and often the Gannets will seek our porpoises or dolphins because they will often drive fish up to the surface making them more available to the diving Gannets!
Gannets can also show us what cetaceans are feeding on.

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I remember a rare day out on the Cartlett Lady some years ago when after several hours cruising we still had not found any dolphins. Skipper Andy Rickard and myself up on the flying Bridge were straining our eyes to the utmost, but still they eluded us.We were out in the Celtic Deep around twenty miles out from St Anne's Head and it was getting to the time when we would have to start making our way in.
Of the the hundreds of times we have surveyed, both aboard the "Celtic Wildcat" with Nick o'Sullivan or Andrew on the "Cartlett Lady", i would not need to use all the fingers of one hand to count the trips where we had failed to connect with any dolphins. Resting my binoculars on the perspex screen of the flying bridge, I somehow managed to spot what looked like a blizzard several miles away. 
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"OK, said Andrew, One last try!" and he opened up the engines heading towards where I had indicated the "blizzard" to be. Self doubt is a terrible thing, and i was beginning to wonder if i had really seen what i thought i had seen, with the boat making twenty knots taking us further away from port, my binoculars were useless on the bucking deck. Thankfully Andy's eyes are extremely sharp and after a couple of anxious minutes he got onto my "Blizzard". Of course the "Blizzard was a feeding frenzy of hundreds of feeding Gannets and common dolphins! The gannets really saved the day that time!
Pembrokeshire hosts the 3rd largest colony of Gannets in the UK! Grassholm remains the third largest gannetry in the UK; by 2009 holding approximately 15% of the UK and Irish population and 9.5% of the world population (Murray, 2009).
Bob Haycock: Ref: Pembrokeshire Birds Avifauna,

Friday, 3 April 2020

Easter Porp Watch 2013... Click on link below.

We, Sea Trust, have done Strumble Porpoise watches at the New Year and Easter and other holidays since 2002! Hundreds (if not thousands) of people have taken part and for many it has been their first cetacean encounter, helped with our volunteers pointing them out!
Sadly like so many outdoor events this year we will not be able to hold a porpoise watch this Easter but here's a bit of video i took in 2013.
For me its quite a bitter sweet memory as i can hear my dear departed Frederike s'Jacob in the background. We were soulmates and partners for over 30 years until she passed away in 2017.Not a day goes by when i don't think of her but as the healing weeks, months and now years pass by the memories bring a warmth to my heart even if there is a tear in my eye! So lovely to her here!

Monday, 23 March 2020

One of our Regulars is Back 23/03/2020

Calm waters this morning, a glorious day and  some marked porpoise. What could be better. As is the case of late the porps were distant at first but some ventured closer toward the end of the feeding action. More Gannets around now too as they return from their winter migrations. A very big feed going on some four miles out with upward of sixty Gannets wheeling and diving no doubt in amongst common dolphin. One of those coming closer was Denty one of our most sighted marked animals and another scarred individual that may be a new one for our ID project.

Now It's Commons 22/03/2020

After the excitement of seeing the Rissos yesterday it was a real joy today to see a small group of Common Dolphin moving through the tide race at Strumble. That's three spicies of cetacean in twenty four hours, not bad this early in the year. It was in March last year that I saw around forty Bottlenose passing Strumble on their way back into Cardigan Bay so fingers crossed we may soon see them again. The porpoise were also feeding well but mostly at a distance and as we move onto bigger tides the numbers may fall off slightly. One of our resident Strumble Rock Pippits was looking very well fed and plump as we approach the nesting season and looked very laid back perched on a rock below the lookout so I couldn't resist a shot of it. Stay well everyone.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

A Double Dose 21/03/2020

Today was one of those rare days of the year when we can get to survey on two tides in one day. So off early on a bright sunny day high in hope and glad to be back after a break working at the Ocean Lab aquarium. The tide was dropping and as the tide race formed the porps started to come in to feed. They kept their distance though and sightings were brief, but at least the numbers were good. Highlight of the morning was the appearance of a Red Kite which passed right in front and below me allowing for a lovely shot of the wing colours.

The afternoon rising tide was a bit slow with lower numbers of porpoise than on my previous visit. Toward the end of the session a group of Rissos were spotted east of the point coming my way. A total of seven individuals with at least two calves in that number. They passed moving to the east giving several opportunities for some decent shots. A short while later a second group of five juveniles (probably males)  were sighted further out to the NNE moving eastward toward Fishguard bay. All in all a very productive day and it was a lovely surprise to see the Rissos again.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Bit of a shiver down the backbone!

 From Adrian...Just dug out my notebook for the 2002 sighting I had, look at the date

No photo description available.

From Adrian Strumble...

Just had a large fin west of the Lighthouse moving east slowly. probably a  Risso's I would say.

Pen Anglas Porp's for the Monday team!

Sea Trust
Published by Holly Dunn16 March at 16:33
It feels like it's been a while since the Monday team had a really enjoyable survey. But today was volunteer Astrid's birthday and the sun was shining  So the team made their way down to Pen Anglas and were greeted by up to 9 porpoises feeding and milling off the headland. Here are a couple of shots from today, taken by Astrid, Fran & Holly 
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Monday, 16 March 2020

Strumble Diary Porp's still there!

Yep Ken's absence from Strumble has caused a bit of a gap and I am sure having completed his wonderful transformation of the aquarium he will be dusting off his lenses and producing more fantastic images! I can't remember a more stormy spell of weather in the past couple of decades but our hardy team of volunteers have continued to survey our porpoises whenever the conditions have allowed.
Lloyd has been covering for Holly and got some great images from our
different survey sites
7/3\20 @ Pen Anglas.

14/3\20 @ Pen Anglas

Strumble Head 14/3/20
8 porpoise in total seen over 45 mins in 105 min survey. group of 6 moving past together, spring tides probably making it a quick affair.

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Sunny survey at Ramsey Sound today. 15/3/20

Over 20 porpoise 🐬 passed the Copper Mines site giving great views of their behavior.
A large group of school children even gave the volunteers a hand spotting for a while.

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I've Been Busy Boy

Howdy folks,

Some of you may have been wondering why the posts of porps at Strumble have dried up over the past few weeks. Truth is there is more to do at Sea Trust than porp watching. True, it's very important but there's always jobs that need doing to keep things looking good and running smoothly. The running smoothly bit is well covered by Cliff, Anna, Holly and the team so I lend my skills to the looking good side of things. Two weeks or so ago we started on a list of jobs that needed doing before the biggest task which was a re-decoration of the aquarium. I'm glad to say that with Bradley's help that task from my point is now complete. There are several tasks such as tank cleaning to be done over the next week or so but it looks like we are on target for re-opening.  Below are a few pics of our now very attracvtive aquarium with Sharkey taking centre spot ready to thrill the Easter visitors.