Sunday, 10 February 2013

It did not look too promising...

We started off on Friday afternoon, with a strong wind sweeping the bridge of the Stena Europe, rows of breakers reverberated against the ships hull as we edged out into Fishguard Bay. With a rough sea of at least SS6, I mentally wrote off the outwards crossing and doubted my spur of the moment decision to go.
But, about half way across the sea was moderating appreciably to SS3 and as the intermittent rain showers faded out we took up position on the bridge wing and began our survey "on effort" Our persistence was soon rewarded with a small pod of common dolphins speeding in to the bow. In the last hour of the outward crossing we had three more small pods of Common Dolphin come speeding into our bows dispelling my initial doubts as to the worth of my decision to go.
As we edged in towards the Tusker in the fading light of the short winters day we managed to pick up two more sightings of Porpoises. We had to go off effort about twenty minutes before reaching Rosslare but were rewarded with a fantastic sunset. Hopefully we will complete the survey in daylight on our  next  outward trip.   

Views of Sunset /Tusker Light, from "The Stena Europe" Ferry...

Saturday  morning dawned still, with just a slight breeze rippling the sea outside the harbour under an overcast sky. Within the harbour ,the resident Black Guillemots  (Tysties) were mainly back in breeding plumage and already beginning some courtship behaviour /pair bonding.
After the usual great breakfast in the Truckers bar, (Thanks Andy,  I told you Wales could win!!!) we headed up to the bridge and prepared our equipment ready for the 9 am sailing.  As we headed out past the Tusker again, we spotted a single porpoise  a long way over to our portside. I began to film it with our new sony binocam and the one porpoise seemed to join up with several more. The video is not brilliant as it was a long way away but its a good record and addition to our survey data.   Strangely despite perfect conditions we sailed on without seeing anything else untill about halfway when a small but extremely exuberent pod of Common Dolphins sped in to our bows giving cracking views. The sea was beginning to build again to a SS3 and it was our last record of the trip as just for once,  our normally reliable Strumble Porpoises were nowhere to be seen! None the less plenty of Common Dolphins spread out over a wide area of the transect in the depths of winter helps  continue to add to our knowledge!
Thanks to Tim, and Hannah for stepping in at last minute at the weekend  and Hannah for editing the video....
Some snippets of the sightings: