Sunday, 24 August 2014

Should we stay or should we go???

Another frustrating set of weather forecasts with contrary reports had us cancel yet another "Cartlett Lady" boat trip today. Instead I had a early trip to Strumble finding Chris Grayell and Rich Stonier already there as I arrived. The sea was flat calm  and I cursed the weather clowns.
Just to rub it in Chris and Richard told me I had just missed a pod of about fifteen Common Dolphins including at least one very small juvenile.
Not in the best of moods I set up my telescope and as I looked through the lense was straight on a porpoise. There were plenty in the remains of the tide race at least twenty popping up here and there. After an hour or so I decided to have a look at the lighthouse to see if there were any seal pup's yet. 
I was just out of my seat and setting off when Chris and Rich called me back... "Tall Fins!" aaargh... I ran back to my scope and began scanning trying to get on to them.For at least thirty seconds I struggled to get them in my scope listening to instructions  "One up... Two Up.. Five up... wow  that ones really pale!" etc.
Eventually I found them. Risso's dolphins! They were about a mile out in a bit of a huddle acting totally naturally with no boats or any other human disturbance they wandered about in the tide race a bit, seemingly just faffing about with a bit of group interaction. One big very pale individual seemed to be spy hopping whilst another head slapped and there was a little tail slapping Any of this behaviour might have been put down to disturbance if we had been in a boat or if a boat had been near them but it was obviously just normal behaviour within the group.
We watched them for the best part of an hour as they slowly wandered off to the North West.
Not long after the boys spotted  a small pod of Common Dolphins crossing in front of us heading in the direction of a small stationary RIB. which had appeared about a mile and a ha;lf off the lighthouse. The occupants  were oblivious to the approach of the dolphins right up until they passed by at speed! They must have got terrific views!
Porpoises continued to act as a supporting act occasionally breaching or pretending to be dolphins by setting of on short speedy bursts before settling down to the more usual erratic surfacing.Sadly all this happened out of camera shot which was particularly annoying as one of the dolphins had a very noticeable white spot/scar just below the fin tip. Either way Strumble turned up trumps again!!!

Congrats to Ed on his first Great Shearwater, which as far as I can remember is only about the third or fourth in ten years of ferry surveys! Also well done to Dave Astins, one marine mammal I have not as yet on my list!