Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Porps off the Outer Breakwater Fishguard Harbour

Adrian Roger (Wdig birder) accompanied me on to the outer breakwater. Not much bird-wise other than a single ringed plover and a few rock pipits...and then we noticed quite a lot of gull activity out from the Cow and Calf Rocks. A fairly distant mother and calf pair of porpoises were seen together heading east of which I only got a distant shot and then another single animal was also spotted moving in the same direction towards the harbour mouth.

Its really not easy getting shots of them when they surface erratically but a couple of gulls followed them helping us to guess where they might pop up. As we followed their progress they got a bit closer and I managed some half decent shots! At least one mother and calf plus a single adult but there may have been more.

Quiet day at Strumble...?

I spent half an hour with nothing much happening, that is if you don't count lots of guillemots and razorbills flying by as well as scoter and half a dozen red throated divers... also what was either a Great Northern Diver or a Black Throated. 

But then the Porpoises turned up including  a mother and calf.. All things i would expect to see in this fabulous nature watching Mecca.

 And then a Buzzard flew in off the sea, not a rare bird for Pembrokeshire but not often you see them coming in off the sea! Hmm Strumble always turns up the goods! There is always something going on at Strumble if you take your time and give it a chance.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Sea Trust letter to Welsh Assembley...

Sea Trust as an organisation with over 12 years experience of monitoring Marine Mega-fauna in Welsh Waters and considerable knowledge of the situation regarding the  scallop fishery and the Bottlenose Dolphins Tursiops truncates which are one of the main candidates for protection within the Cardigan Bay Marine  SAC, would like to draw your attention to the following facts.
  1. The SAC  is a European designation set up under the Habitats and Species Directive. Scallop Dredging is acknowledged as one of the most damaging forms of fishing The Government has a duty to maintain and improve any such SAC's. To allow Scallop Fishing to continue in the SAC is totally in conflict with this designation.
  2. Scallop dredging has been banned in several other SAC's, it is inconceivable that The Welsh Government would consider allowing vessels that have been banned from dredging their own waters to do so here.
  3. There is evidence from reports commissioned by CCW/NRW that Bottlenose Dolphins are dispersing from the SAC and Scallop Dredging is named as a possible reason for this change in their habits. Under the "Precautionary Principle" as defined in the EU Habitats and Species Directive, Scalloping should be banned from the SAC and environmental  assessments should be carried out with the option of extending the SAC and the degree of protection within the SAC being considered.
  4. This year between June and November,  a pod of up 20 Bottlenose Dolphins took up residence in Fishguard Bay to the South of The Cardigan Bay  SAC. These included mothers with dependent calves. This is unprecedented in the 12 years we have been monitoring this area and may well be a sign that The dolphins are having to look further afield for prey due to the degradation of Cardigan Bay due to increase there of scalloping in the past ten years.
  5. The catch of scallops in Cardigan Bay either inside or outside the SAC  has clearly not been sustainable as evidenced by decreasing catch rates and falling numbers of boats travelling here to fish Cardigan Bay.
  6. The vast majority of the boats fishing Cardigan Bay are not local but arrive here mainly from the south coast of England and.Scotland consequently  little of the profit actually finds it way into the local economy. or indeed the Welsh economy.
  7. The penalties imposed on rogue fishermen who have made huge profits by flouting the law are derisory. Any boat found to be fishing outside of permitted areas should be banned and its gear seized. .

Therefore, taking all these facts into consideration and the Welsh Governments risk of finding itself in contravention of the  EU Habitats and Species directive, we would strongly recommend that the integrity of the  Cardigan Bay SAC be upheld  and that scallop dredging be prohibited within the SAC. and also that the SAC boundaries be
enlarged to cover Fishguard Bay..

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Stormy so few sightings but Strumble still delivers

Found Chris Grayell at Strumble on Friday morning who had spotted three Risso's in among the big waves. I managed a few glimpses of Porpoises still there but not easy!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

more Strumble sightings!

Amid the stormy weather we're having at the moment, lots of wildlife can still be seen. At Strumble Head yesterday there were definite sightings of Risso's dolphins by Chris Grayell, with Cliff Benson seeing the occasional porpoise too!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Breakwater Surprise!

I was really going onto the outer breakwater today to give Zorro a run as the wind was blowing hard from the SW and earlier, visibility had been extremely limited.

Despite the breakers further out, the sea area closer in was protected by the breakwater but still looked pretty deserted until i noticed ...

This juvenile herring gull quartering just above some buoys which often gives away the presence of a porp

or two! 

Friday, 13 November 2015

surf up at Strumble

Cliff, Zorro the dog and myself went up to Strumble this morning and bumped into Adrian Rodgers and Richard Davies, who'd spotted Risso's dolphins earlier that day. Despite the gale force winds we spotted a few porps enjoying the surf, although the large white waves proved a bit difficult in taking any photos of them. A good morning for bird sightings as well; great skua, pomarine skua, long-tailed skua and arctic skua.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Strumble trio

Cliff and myself went up to Strumble this afternoon as the tide was coming in. The gusts were severe so we stayed in the car. Despite the white horses I spotted 2 porps with the rocks of the lighthouse in the same view of my bins. 5 mins later I spotted one coming towards us at speed about 800m out but disappeared into the waves just as quickly. Nice end to the afternoon.

Porps today

After a stormy night of wind and rain the morning has vastly improved with a strong southerly breeze dispelling the grey sending cotton wool clouds scudding across a blue sky. We went out onto the outer breakwater to see what we could see. With an offshore wind Fishguard Bay was largely sheltered allowing us to spot a couple of  porpoise about five hundred meters beyond the Cow &Calf rocks. Hopefully we will get a chance to see whats happening at Strumble later this afternoon!

Friday, 6 November 2015


(Edited report for WinW)

This report records the mammals and birds seen from the Stena Superfast X ferry to and from Holyhead and Dublin on 30th October 2015. It complements Sea Trust’s standard recording sheet for cetacean sightings which has been submitted separately. Tony Gallon, Alesha Naranjit and Frazer Higgins were Sea Trust’s observers on this trip. 

From the point of view of cetacean watching the trip was characterised by fair to good conditions throughout although minor white horses were an inconvenience at times. The change of time means that observations were not possible during the last hours of the return journey because of the onset of darkness.

There were few sightings of cetaceans on this pelagic with only porpoises and a single seal being logged. The first outward leg sighting was of two porpoises with not long after a singleton.
The return trip produced two more as well as one unidentified cetacean and a single grey seal.

Sea bird highlights were a single a single pale phase Arctic Skua, a winter plumaged Red Throated diver and a single late Manx Shearwater.Twenty  Mediterranean Gulls were recorded just outside Dublin Harbour. 

We were made very welcome on the Stena Superfast X and Sea Trust extends their appreciations to Stena for their generous hospitality in facilitating this survey.

Dr Anthony C. Gallon.