Sunday, 24 January 2010

Winter warmers

Sea Trust /Stena Ferry surveys in January are usually more a test of endurance than productive from a sightings point of view. And the first leg yesterday afternoon proved to be so, with a single porpoise spotted by Sara, the only reward for a bitterly cold watch happily attenuated by darkness before we reached the Tusker Rock.

In the early morning we were awoken by the ships fog horn , I turned over in my bunk cursing our luck. I awoke again at eight and thanked allthingsgood, as Rosslaire was clearly visible out of the cabin window. Breakfast in the truckers bar confirmed the fog had gone and the sea was calm, helleluja!

Julia opened the score with a porp near the Tusker, the sun rose and gave a little welcome warmth as I battled with a head cold and streaming eyes to focus my bins. Amaizingly I spotted half a dozen circling gannets and then managed to get everyone else on to them as the water below them erupted with a splashy display of dolphin fins and flukes!

At least seventy Common Dolphins raced in to meet us as we approached, a fantastic amount for this time of the year. We were all pretty chuffed but a few moments later a dead animal floated by, which Rich Crossen managed to photograph. Our elation waned a little but not long after, more gannets were sighted ahead and another even bigger pod of Dolphins came racing in to our bows, wave after wave, bringing the total to more than a couple of hundred! The rest of the trip was pleasant but uneventful except for birds which included nine brent geese and a single but extremely exceptional puffin.

Not bad for midwinter!