Monday, 25 January 2016

Strumble Diary: Yesterday: popping Porp's and rushing Risso's

Magical Strumble!!!
The day began misty and drizzly not exactly promising. I spent an hour in the Ocean Lab and then went for some lunch. After as I drove out of the drive for some reason I headed up the hill towards Strumble rather than down towards the Ocean Lab.
For the first hour as I sat in my folding chair, it was only the birds and a close seal that kept my attention going, with only a couple of Porpoise sightings. Both were quite close, both of which I missed with the camera...

I was getting a bit restless, the tide was ebbing fast, so i went to have a look out towards the Lighthouse. The waters off it were really messy with several gulls as well as divers, cormorants and shags feeding in among the choppy waves, as were a couple of porpoises, sporadically showing, retreating west with the tide.

And then I saw three large hooked fins just visible beyond the Lighthouse/
It looked at last as if my patience had paid off, I fumbled to get a shot with my camera but by the time I raised it and got it focused they were gone. Had they gone west and out of view or where they rounding the headland and coming my way?

I spent the next fifteen minutes seriously scanning but no Risso's showed although i did at last get my Porpoise shot in among the white horses at the last of the ebb tide, That’s important because with our Strumble Diary we are proving without any question of doubt that it should be designated as an SAC for Harbour Porpoises. Despite the incompetence of JNCC and NRW “Experts” with their computer modelling and out of date and inadequate data.

A nice couple of walkers stopped by (Ian and Fiona Swan) who live near the Cromarty Firth in Scotland which got us chatting about the Bottlenose Dolphins there. Happily, the Porpoises started returning on the flood and I was lucky enough to be able to show them quite a few Porpoises, some which came in close enough to be seen with naked eye. Try a s I might I missed them all with the camera, including a mother and calf but an hour passed pleasantly and I had a record pic’.

Ian and Fiona headed off back towards Pwll Deri and I settled down in my chair again. Either way I was hoping our Risso’s would put on a bit of a show and not long after, I just caught a big fin disappearing below the surface, heading east about half a mile out and coming from the direction of the lighthouse. I wasn’t sure if it was the same as the ones I saw before and waited for it/them to emerge and show themselves again but nope, nothing!
I am constantly surprised by the way cetaceans can just disappear into the ether. Even big ones like Risso’s in good viewing conditions in an almost flat calm, so frustrating!!! Twenty minutes later it happened again two fins spotted going down and then nothing. The area of sea in front of the Strumble lookout is huge and single handed, I was at a bit of a disadvantage but I knew which direction they seemed to be heading in. And why were they being so sneaky, there were no boats, the ferry had long passed and there was no way they could see me!

Time passed, I got another decent closer Porp’ pic and a couple more shots of Divers that were floating by on the tide. And then Two more fins briefly seen I got my camera lined up just in time to shoot a series of huge splashes. The splashes were obvious in the viewfinder but I could see no animals what was this all about a split second later I managed a couple of disappearing fin shots, hmm, a record but what was with the splashes? My heart was still beating fast and my frustration level was through the roof.

It was over in a flash, the motor drive clicked away and all I could see was splashes...until I got home and downloaded it...and revealed a smiley face which definitely made me smile when I saw it!

But that was still not revealed and I sat smarting with frustration at what seemed to have been a lost opportunity '

But the magic of Strumble began to have its effect. I am not a scientist, I am a naturalist and I spent most of my boyhood dreaming of walking the African veldt watching Elephants and big cats. I never made it because I got fascinated by Strumble she became my mistress and my muse and like any loved one they can drive you mad or raise your spirits at a glance! I had had a great afternoon. The sky was brightening as the sun broke through the clouds on its way down giving me another few minutes of useful light and I managed a couple more Porp’ pic’s in the dying minutes of the day…