Thursday, 17 September 2020

Strumble Diary 17/09/2020 Flying Commons Steal The day

A beautiful morning in contrast to yesterday's gloom but tempered by a keen easterly breeze holding back the temperature. Three types of cetacean today so I'll deal with each in turn. The most important and first is our porps. The tide race was yet to form as I arrived but there were one or two still around after the earlier flood tide. They moved off and there was a wait then until the ebb flow started to pick up. Big tides today so I wasn't expecting the big numbers of the past week and so it turned out. The tide race build up was rapid and strong with most of the porpoise feeding well out away from the strongest flow. One or two ventured a bit closer and I eagerly captured them as they surfaced briefly. From the few I did capture two were marked animals which I always like to see especially if they are returners for the ID project. 

Later in the session I spotted two Rissos dolphins out to the north moving toward the west. They teased us with just fin tips showing most of the time but I did manage to get some reasonable shots.

Now for today's high flyers. Porpoise moved west beyond the lighthouse, rissos gone west and nearly an hour of staring at clean blue water left me feeling it must surely be time to think of going home for lunch. "I'll give it ten more minutes" I thought, and so glad I did. Off to the NE at some 4-500mtrs were a group of common dolphin making their way out to the NW just close enough for some shots. I followed them through the lens for a few minutes as they sped outward with a few breaches and lots of splashes as the went. Done job I thought. Three different cetaceans in one session is a good result in anyones book. 

I decided to take a look at the images on the screen at the back of the camera and after going through them looked up to see a second pod coming from the same direction but this lot were on steroids. Very surface active and really motoring along. I got on them and rattled off as many shots as I could before they too disappeared out of sight. You never know how each session is going to turn out but this one was a belter, but the true pleasure is to be able to share my Strumble escapades with you all.  ENJOY!!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Strumble Diary 15/09/2020 AM

 Late arriving today as Leo was due his monthly trim and brush up at the groomers. Despite that though there were still a large number of porpoise foraging in the tide race I'd estimate 30+. Two keen watchers reported two Rissos and a small number of commons and many more porps sighted before I arrived. I sighted two or three commons feeding off to the west about 1/2 mile or so in amongst the porpoise that had gone down with the tide.  The porpoise action tailed off and they all moved out to the west on the tide.  Scanning around I then spotted a group of around twenty Commons off to the east and tracked them as they passed heading west with the tide. All in all a good session again today so let's hope numbers hold up for the rest of the month. Bonus today was a new marked porp for the ID project.



Releasing Shearwaters

 I am told there has been some criticism of my releasing Shearwaters in the daytime rather than at dusk which Ken Photographed in a previous posting.

I have been involved in rescuing Shearwaters for nearly thirty years.

Most shearwaters that are found on land are young birds that have left their nest burrows at night and been attracted inland by bright lights such as the Ferry Port Lights at Fishguard or Strumble lighthouse. I dread to thing how many have been attracted tio the lights caused by flaring of gasses at the refineries. 

In the past we have (Sea Trust) released them way out to sea from the ferry, but with Covid restrictions that is not an option this year,

The main reason given to release them at dusk is to avoid gulls? 

Gulls are still active at dusk, in fact at Strumble they are  extremely active as they flock in to roost there on Ynys Meicle. Also soon after dusk the very lights that attracted them in, are shining brightly.

Therefore having got them ringed I release them as soon as possible from Strumble after scanning with my binoculars, to make sure there are no gulls nearby that might chase after the released Shearwater and kill it.

This year we have ringed and released five shearwaters from Strumble in the afternoon. The place I launch them from, (into the wind) is seventy feet above sea level and having launched them they quickly start flapping their wings and shoot off like little rockets, and are soon out of sight as they swoop down over the water and out to sea. 

They will no doubt land on the sea soon after release and have a drink and preen, They then have four or five hours to make their way out to sea beyond sight of land and away from the lights that may attract them back. They will hopefully join others of their kind and feed up out to sea before setting off on their journey to the southern ocean.and safety.


Monday, 14 September 2020

Strumble Diary 14/09/2020 Oh What A Wonderful Day.

Gone was the dull grey of yesterday and in it's place a beautiful blue sky with hardly a breath of wind. Perfect survey weather with viz right out to the horizon (not that I can see porps out that far)  and great light. I arrived 08.10 and straight away was sighting porps out to the NE. Nothing unusual there but it was the sheer numbers at that state of the tide that pleased me. At least thirty in various sized groups up to the largest at ten to twelve. As the morning wore on more and more showed up at all points of the compass giving what we cheerfully call porpoise soup. The area was thick with them. Tracking some through the lens I caught sight of some common dolphin sneaking through so a lovely distarction and then back on the porpoise. 

Fran arrived around 11am with the Monday volunteers and although the tide race had dropped away considerably there were still a good number of porpoise traveling through with several groups of more distant commons in the background. With such high numbers (80+) it was inevitable there would be at least one marked animal in there and I was delighted to see Denty return and also one other who's identity I need to confirm. Also one Sunfish out in the tide race.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Strumble Diary 13/09/2020

Another grey day at Stumble as I set myself for a day long session. With two hrs to go to low water I settled in and started scanning around. Several porpoise off the lighthouse caught my attention and a half hour later they had moved off. A couple of passing porps over the next three hours was all there was to show for my patience. For most of the morning I was stared at by a bull seal who lately has taken a liking to the rock outcrop below the lookout which is exposed at low tide. I think he thought I may steal his new haul out perch. Late in the session I spotted the first of three rissos dolphin, all distant and only showed the once. I spent quite some time in the quiet periods educating lots of visitors about our marine diversity, what we see at Strumble and the tidal systems. There's still very many visitors about and most are always eager to listen and learn.

 As I was leaving Cliff and Fran arrived to release some stranded manx sheerwaters that had been rescued and brought to Sea Trust, so I stayed to take some pics of the event. It's sad but some of the young birds fresh off the islands are drawn to the bright lights on the mainland and end up stranding as they can't take off again due to their body design. We care just as much about these little fellas as we do about our mammals at Sea Trust and we feel it a privilage to see them on their way safely to their destinatioon over 9,000 miles away in Argentina. Bon Voyage! little ones may you have a trouble free journey.