Friday, 5 February 2016

Strumble Diary storms again! porps again!

So whilst Ken goes off to the sunny south of England, I am left here in wild west Wales, trying to picture porps without either his equipment or his talent! Luckily I do have a fair share of that other essential, dogged determination!
It was a bit of a nightmare with horrible visibility, drizzle turning to rain and a whipped up sea. The tide was beginning to make and i was hoping that as it did, the porpoises would get a bit nearer and giver me a chance of a shot,
Several divers passed by before dropping onto the sea off the lighthouse I fired off shots at almost anything that moved in the hope that my reflexes would sharpen and when the porps got closer I might get something.

But after an hour of pointing and missing I  finally got something...

OK not much but something!

Of course a 30,000 tonne super ferry is not that easy to miss, so no real credit for this shot but it gives a fair idea of what conditions were like! Eventually I did get a pic  of something recognizable as a Porpoise...

I reckon given the conditions I did alright in the end! five minutes later the rain set in and bad light stopped play. Still more evidence to show why Strumble head categorically qualifies as a  stand alone Harbour Porpoise SAC by which anywhere else should be judged!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Strumble Diary 04/02/16

Just time to catch a few hours at Strumble before a few days off on family duties. A very quiet day weatherwise today with light Westerly winds and heavy low cloud. Shooting conditions were not good but as Cliff says it's the recording that's important. Being calmer it was easier to see the Porps out in the race and I'd say there were about twenty in all scattered over a half mile or so. Cliff and Barbara joined me for thirty minutes or so before I left so a bit of company was appreciated. Over to you now Cliff for a few days.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Strumble Diary: Photographic evidence leading the way!

Kens diligence even in adverse conditions paid off today with what looks like some sort of extremely close interaction between at least four Porpoises which we suspect was probably a/several males showing interest in a female . Had conditions not been so adverse the liaison might have been observed in  more detail but without this kind of photographic evidence most of this would happen unrecorded!
Bit by bit we build the picture! Bit by bit  citizen scientists tread a path as yet untrodden ...

Strumble Diary 03/02/16 AM.

Arrived at Strumble this morning as the skies began to clear and an hour or so after low water. I wasn't expecting to see much with the wind quite strong from the NNW. Indeed it was a while before I sighted a porp far out in the tide race and that was very brief. Scanning with the binos as you do for a while I was resigned to the fact it was an early lunch, but as I dropped my binos from my eyes I caught sight of what at first glance looked like a log bobbing in the swells a few hundred feet off. A closer look revealed four porps rafting and it's my guess that it was three males seeking the favours of a female with a young calf. They sort of lolled about on the surface passing the lookout quite slowly which gave me a good opportunity for some images. Unfortunitely by the time I got the lens on them they had separated a little but still remained in close persuit.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Strumble Diary 02/02/2016

A better day today with a reduced swell and great light. The wind was still strong but the slight change in direction gave much easier spotting conditions. Cliff acted as spotter and guided me onto the action which was mostly off the lighthouse to the west of the lookout. Cliff departed to the Ocean lab and I stayed a bit longer in the hopes of a Risso or two but alas still no show. One interesting shot though was of seagulls feeding on what looks like the skin and fatty flesh of a marine mammal. A small porpoise perhaps but it's hard to tell.

The its good to have a Ken!

Ken Barnett showed his skills yesterday getting pic's where I missed them, He also published the results on Whales in Wales which he would not have normally done because by his high standards they were not the sort of thing he normally would. However I have begged him to do so because they are records and help build the argument for Strumble to be designated as a Harbour Porpoise SAC which his work is invaluable! I think today there may be a couple of shots that even Ken will be quite pleased with !

Monday, 1 February 2016

Strumble Diary 01/02/16 (A Trying Day)

As I pulled up to the car park at Strumble Cliff with seat in hand was making his way back to his car after having a morning session at the lookout. A quick chat established that sightings were difficult and far out. So it was that I settled in for a couple of hours in mild but very windy conditions. Appart from the 15-20ft swells these were topped off with very loppy six foot waves at times. Sightings were hard and brief and also very hard to track in the conditions. I did see a distant Rissos but it proved impossible to track and capture. For once I had more frames in the camera without Porps than with them. A lot of shots of some lovely seas though.

I think this one illustrates the difficulties of tracking and capturing these images. An 18inch fin atop a 15ft swell and almost obscured by a loppy six foot wave. Add to that just a second and a half visibility as they come up to breath and you can see how at times it's quite a challenge.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Strumble Diary 31st January 2016 Stormy porp's

You may just be able to see a small black speck in the foaming crest of the second wave which pretty much illustrates the difficulty I had this morning in snapping our Strumble Porpoises!
There were lots out there, I estimated at least twenty but getting a shot of them in among the breakers, in fact even seeing them in the viewfinder was pretty hit and miss.
These two surfy porp dudes were only just discernible when I looked through my shots when I got back to the office. Its a great example of the plume of spray that often gives them away even when you can hardly see them.
Either way, its more proof that Strumble is a special area, an area proven to hold breeding feeding porpoises year round in higher than average numbers, which should if JNCC were up to the job, be designated as a Harbour Porpoise SAC.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Strumble Diary 30/1/16

With favourably broken skies and a keen northwesterly wind I set off for Strumble and a session with Cliff. I arrived about 09.40 and Cliff some 30 minutes later. Porps were there but as in past days the views were fleeting and sporadic. Strong winds were whipping up the waves although the swells were lighter than yesterday.  Images were hard to capture but I did manage a few. Our session ended about 11.40 with few porps being seen in the last half hour or so before we called it a day. Also seen were many divers both flying and on the water the usual gulls and a Stonechat just in front of us.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Seatrust Schools Presentation

An afternoon to remember for a long time. That will be the personal memories I will take away from today. It was a pleasure to meet the other Seatrust volunteers and the chairman of the trust Mr Iolo Williams. The enthusiasm with which Cliff and Iolo carried out the presentation was clear to see and it was noticeable that it was passing over to the children present. I don't know the exact numbers that attended but the school hall holds around 600 and it was at least two thirds full. After the presentation Iolo and Cliff held a question and answer session and they could have been there till six o'clock I'm sure as so many hands were going up such was the enthusiasm. Below is a selection of images from the presentation.

                                         Head teachers introduction

                                          Iolo's warm up for Cliff.

                                         Cliff in full swing.

                                          Iolo enjoying Cliff's banter.

                                         Cliff relaxing while Iolo talks about Fin Whales.

                                         Questions and answers.

More Questions than answers
Cliff Iolo and the Head Mistress.
Informal questions afterwards.
School ushers with Cliff,  Iolo and Steve.