Friday 1 December 2023

Strumble Diary 01/12/2023

 A bright sunny but still very cold start to December at Strumble today. Gone was the strong NE wind of yesterday replaced with a weaker but still cold Easterly at about 3-5Mph. As soon as I had set up I could see 12-15 Commons quite distant feeding with Gannets showing their position. None came as close as yesterday but nice to know they're still around. As the ebb tide got going several porpoise showed up over the next two hours or so with most not showing too well but some others gave me the opportunity for some good shots. I stayed until they started dropping back with the tide then gave into the cold and made my way home to a warm drink and a thaw out.

Thursday 30 November 2023

Strumble Diary 30/11/2023

 On the last day of meteorological Autumn the weather gave us our first taste of what winter might bring. A stiff NE wind with a general temp of 3deg but the wind chill making it feel like -2to3. Poorish light but the right time for the tide so I was hopeful of seeing some fins. Shortly after arriving I spotted several Commons off to the NW but it was brief. Two porpoise sighted just before the Thursday survey crew arrived brought hope of a successful survey for them too. By this time the wind was realy chilling and all on the survey were feeling it to some degree but despite this concentration was maintained. The next sighting were of 10-15 commons moving in from the East and then hanging around on and off for a good hour feeding just beyond the tide race in front of the lookout. After they moved off to the West we had sporadic sightings of porpoise with my total for the day being six. Very glad to get back home though and into the warmth with a mug of hot soup to thaw me out.

Thursday 23 November 2023

Is competition healthy? maybe not for our Strumble Porpoises...

 Hi Cliff,


Lloyd just said that you wanted a little report of yesterday’s survey. Sadly, don’t have any good photos but can give you the info!

We had a pod of around 20 common dolphins feeding quite a way out for the first half of the survey. We then had around 4 feeding porpoises coming relatively close but were elusive and deep diving. In the last 15 minutes of the survey, we were watching some odd splashing very close to the cliff and were shocked to see a large tuna leap from the water!

But I do Nadia ! (taken by Ken from the Cartlett Lady back in August 2017)...and its set me off thinking! we only started recording Bluefins about seven or eight years ago out in the Celtic Deep. We only started seeing Common Dolphins inshore since 2000-2001andthen only onceor twice in the summer. Nw we see them all year round and often in big numbers of 60+


Porpoise numbers at Strumble seem to be declining since the days when we regularly experienced  what my old mate Elfyn Pugh termed "Porpoise soup".On a slow count, i might often register 40 or more individual surfacing porpoises, as I scanned across from the Lighthouse to Mackerel Rock, about 150 degrees.Since 2000 Common dolphins have started to appear at Strumble at first once or twice inthe summer but now in good numbers all year round.

That would hardly ever happen these days in fact I can remember when I last saw anything resembling "Porpoise Soup".So what has changed in the past couple of decades that might affect Porpoise numbers at Strumble? 

So far as I can remember there are fewer commercial potting fishermen, Boat traffic is no more frequent There used to be both the conventional Ferry and the fast cats, but the fast cats are long gone so less ferry traffic. So far as i can tellm if anything, there has been less anthropogenic (human)  disturbance in recent years than occured 20 years ago.
So, what if any changes have occured to the Strunble dynamic that might impact on Porpoise numbers.
The answer may well be competition from other species such as Common Dolphins and in the past year or so, Bluefin Tuna  that have infiltrated what used to be our porpoises happy hunting grounds....

Thursday 16 November 2023

Strumble Diary 16/11/2023

 A bright day with excellent visibility is what greeted me on my arrival at Strumble today. Within ten minutes of setting up I got a view of some thirty or so Common Dolphin approaching from the Fishguard direction (East) all tightly grouped together. They were headed NW and as they passed they got progressively further away. They stopped and circled at one stage as if they'd come accross a shoal of fish and were feeding on it for a few minutes before continuing. The first of the Thursday survey team arrived just in time to see them before they went out of sight. The rest of the team arrived and we started the two hour survey.

Another small group of commons was the first sighting, passing East to West at a steady speed. A while later Fran spotted splashes way out and it was soon confirmed that they were Rissos. When I say "Way out" they were roughly 2 miles out and except for the calm conditions would most probably have not been seen. Some twenty minutes later having turned they were spotted by Dawn coming back East to West and a little closer in. Sadly no porpoise recorded today but that's the way it goes some days. We did get splendid views of a stunningly vivid rainbow out in the channel which was visible for a good fifteen minutes or so.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Strumble head diary 05/11/23 from Adrian...


Adrian Rogers  
Strumble Head 05/11/23
Time: 07.30 - 13.30
Weather: Cloudy, Bright occasionally
Wind: NW 5+
Common Dolphin - A pod of approximately 50 animals west early on.
Risso's Dolphin - 2

Saturday 4 November 2023

Strumble Diary 03/11/2023

 A delayed blog from yesterdays session. 

I arrived at the lookout with several birders in attendance so a quick chat ensued only to be told I had missed a group of close in Rissos by about ten minutes. A dissapointment then untill one of them shouted "They're up again". A quick unzip of my camera bag and eyes to the water to spot them. "Found them" A bit off to the NE and still within camera range so I got what I could before they headed east toward Fishguard Bay. A group of seven to eight but hard to say really. Later one of the birders spotted a further three well out plus Adrian spotted two more. I spotted a very large Risso coming in from the West in very large swells but didn't see it again. So a possible fourteen in all. I waited well into the dropping tide in hopes that they would come back with it but no luck. 

As the light faded away I left hoping for better luck the next day 04/11.  As I write this post I can report:- Spent five hours there and only saw 5 porpoise all at distance and no Rissos.