Monday, 4 March 2013

weather clowns foil last minute ferry survey but still some dolphins!

brief sighting in choppy seas...
It started to look good last Monday, with forecasts of high pressure building over the UK for Wed/Thurs, then Thurs /Fri, then the weekend.... Every subsequent forecast delaying or rearranging the pressure maps. At the last minute on Friday I decided to take a chance and go Sat/Sun.
I had Peter Boyle on standby as well as Hannah and also Sarah from Habitat info who has been working with Rob and Tim , mapping all our data. It was her last chance as her work experience comes to an end this week. Coincidentally a call from Janette Humphries that evening got her on the team so five of us boarded the Stena Europe on Saturday afternoon. 
It was cold to start with, calm, sunny and cold but  a strengtheneing NE breeze made our eyes water and chopped up the sea. Hannah copped a porpoise briefly but none of the rest of us managed to get on it and this set the pattern as we half saw things but got little in the way of confirmed sightings. If ever proof was needed that surveying in adverse conditions is a waste of time this was it. We came off effort as the waves built and went on to casual observing for little reward. 
Day two was just as blustery and cold, the team stuck it out heroically, again "off effort " but determined to try and salvage something from the trip. At last, twenty miles off the Welsh coast  a couple of Common Dolphins were spotted just coming onto our bows, a brief but confirmed sighting and a valuable record for March. A couple more quickly followed but the best sighting was of two porpoises that everyone got a good view of, just before we entered Fishguard Harbour!  Not entirely a waste of time and good company, but roll on  a bit of warmer spring weather!