Monday, 18 July 2011

Ernst the eagle eye has landed (and departed) ...

Some may remember Ernst and Aniek working with Malcolm the winter before last braving sub zero tempratures and getting images of a porpoise with a damaged fin proving a degree of site fidelity. Ernst came back for a few days. ...

Hello Cliff.

It has been wonderful to be back in Pembrokeshire again. Me and my mate have spent four wonderful days on the Pembrokeshire coast. We’ve experienced four day’s worth off cetacean action. It’s so great to finally experience Pembrokeshire in summer conditions, after so many visits in the cold and grayness of winter. Here is a short update of the four day’s worth of sightings.


Penllechwen struck gold again. Normally quite poor in consistent porpoise activity, but generally makes up for it with great sightings if things do start to happen. After a rather porpoiseless morning we were rewarded with a tremendous sighting of about 32-36 common dolphins racing by at about 300 metres in full speed. Divided in three smaller groups, the animals passed west on the ebb tide, heading towards the Bishops & Clerks . At least two calves where sighted. Probably more present though. After a small breather and regrouping, the animals disappeared out of sight.

We met up with Malcolm in the sound after that to see six (after photo analysis) porpoise pass through on the flood tide. Two calves where observed. Of which a very photo genetic mother-calf pair.

About two hours later we met up with this pair again at Whitesands, near Saint David’s Head. They seemed to be resting and socializing in the calm waters there, not to far away from the swimmers. A very nice first day indeed.


The second day, a visit to Skomer island. A few porpoise around at Skomer Head. A short visit to Strumble brought us a lot of porp activity in the final stage of the flood tide. About 15 porpoise feeding and porpoising activily on the surface, accompanied by circling and occasionally diving gannets. It was looking like the gannets where waiting for the porps to herd fish up to the surface.


Strumble was the first venue of the day in search of those illusive risso’s. No risso’s sighted, though increasing porpoise activity during the progress of the ebb tide. Over ten animals where sighted at once, feeding in the tidal race just behind the lighthouse.

Next cetacean on the list was the bottlenose dolphin. First stop was Mwnt. Just two minutes after arriving, a mother and calf pair showed up and remained in the area for about one hour. The calf stayed at the surface, circling, playing and frequently blowing, whilst mother was probably hunting for fish further down.

Next stop was New Quay. Our luck was definitely in, because again the animals showed in not more than two minutes. From the pier we could see about 8-10 animals resting and socializing. After about one hour, most of the animals disappeared behind the fish factory. Two larger animals separated from the group and entered the harbor in search of fish. We positioned ourselves on the rocks at het harbors’ entrance. Whilst we where setting up the camera, one animal broke the surface, about twenty feet away from us, tossing a big mullet in the air. It took until the second and third jump for me to realize what was happening. One poor mullet was caught and immediately the duo left the harbor, leaving us utter euphoric on the pier.


Last day of the trip, we decided to test our luck again and looked up the bottles in New Quay again on a dolphin encounter trip. We could have better stayed in the harbor, for animals where sighted on the way in and on the way out of the harbor. About three animals where slowly surfacing in the area before disappearing out of sight.

Right now, I’m on the ferry back to the mainland again. Though it’s mighty rough out there, I’m still scanning the water through the window, hoping to get a last glimpse of a porpoise this trip.

It was wonderful being back in lovely Pembrokeshire again. I guess it will not be the last time.

Best regards,


Thats what I call talent, conditions were not great but he made the most of our Dolphin Coast, somone  somewhere should give this guy a job!