Saturday, 25 June 2022

Trip report from Tony Lucas and vid'+ image from Greg Ellis

 Hi Cliff,

Here’s my report!

What a wonderful day we woke up to yesterday. The sun shining and not a cloud in the sky. And more to the point, looking ahead to our trip on the Cartlett Lady out into the Celtic deep, not a puff of wind either!
 A full complement mustered at Neyland marina - 10 very excited passengers and 2 crew, the skipper Andy Rickard and Ian, at 9.30. At 10am we made our way through the marina to the Cartlett Lady, on the way seeing our first ‘wildlife’ of the day - 3 or 4 quite large mullet gliding between the boats - a good sign of things to come later we hoped!
  As we passed the tankers in the haven most of us could be seen urgently covering ourselves with last minute sun cream! Our next wildlife sighting was when Andy stopped the boat in mid channel to enable a Mum and Dad shelduck with 5 little ducklings make to safety across to the other side!
  Passing St. Anne’s Head out into the open sea we were soon to see 3 porpoises. Heading westwards now at about 11.30 with Skokholm Island to the north of us we spotted a long dark shape on the water, and because of its size we took it to be a basking shark. 
  Continuing westwards , now about 25 miles from St. Anne’s Head at 12.30 came the highlight of our trip - suddenly a large group of common dolphins came to examine us, and remained with us for about 5 minutes, playing and leaping, giving a great exhibition. They numbered about 50 to 60 with many juveniles among them.
  Soon afterwards we turned northwards towards the Smalls Lighthouse and immediately had a distant sighting of 2 minke whales. Unfortunately as soon as they saw us they were gone and we never saw them again.
  We arrived at the Smalls at about 2.30 pm and motored slowly around it admiring its phallic beauty! It is truly an amazing sight. If anyone is interested in its history I would recommend seeing a film called ‘The Lighthouse’ it’s a must see! It stands about 120 ft. high on a small low lying rock.
  We now headed slowly back for home via Grassholm Island which is another spectacular sight. It is the home of 39000 pairs of gannets. Fortunately, with the lack of wind, the smell was travelling skywards and we were able to enjoy the spectacle without having to hold our noses!!
  Continuing on our way home, we saw three more small groups of common dolphins and all came close to bow ride etc for a short while.
  We arrived back at Neyland marina at 6pm.
  I should mention that throughout the day birdlife was plentiful. Everywhere we looked there were birds in every direction, including gulls, gannets, Manx shearwaters, puffins, guillemots, razorbills.
  So, all in all, a wonderful day. Flat calm seas, excellent visibility, blue skies and lots to see. What a day! Many thanks to Andy, our skipper and perfect host for the day.
  List is wildlife seen is : common dolphins 70/80; porpoises 3; Atlantic grey seals 2; minke whales 2; basking shark 1; jellyfish.
  On behalf of Sea Trust I would like to thank everyone for coming, for their support. I really hope you all enjoyed the day.
Tony Lucas
For Sea Trust

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Cartlett Lady 23/6/22 Survey report...

Report from Anthony and Andy... Flat calm, about a hundred common dolphin, (not quite a super-pod!) Porpoises, and two Minke Whales as well as a Basking Shark. Not to mention the Smalls Light, the incredible Gannetry at Grassholm Puffins by the hundred and Grey Seals , not too shoddy!... Risso's and Bottlenose Dolphins also seen from the Fishguard Bay boat, so all of the big five seen in our waters on one day! (Bottlenose Risso's and Common Dolphins, Minke Whale and Harbour Porpoise) Also Risso;s reported near Ramsey!

Reports of Fin Whale,  Minke and Thresher Shark from another boat yesterday that was much further out in the Celtic Deep, shark fishing. It  has me wondering if, rather than combining sight seeing of the islands with our survey stuff we maybe should just head out into the Celtic Sea and see what we see! 

Maybe a ten hour trip if conditions were as good as yesterday...Would be a bit pricey around £170 per head I am guessing let me know if anyone would be interested via:

Lloyd Nelmes, Rob Havard and 59 others
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Monday, 20 June 2022

Cartlett Lady Trip Thursday...


Hi everybody, the weather is looking settled for the next few days and we, Sea Trust are looking at an 8-hour survey trip on Thursday out to the Smalls and Celtic deep, on the Cartlett Lady, taking in Grassholm on the way. We will be looking for sea birds and cetaceans, Hopefully Minke Whale as well as Common Dolphins puffins etc, (£140 per person) if interested please email names and contacts to allthingsgood,cliff

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Common Dolphins Strumble 15th June.

 A seawatch from the garden just giving the usual numbers of Manx Shearwaters for time of year was made more interesting with in the end 5 groups of Common Dolphins going east towards Fishguard between 7.30 & 8.15 pm, difficult to estimate but between 20 & 30 animals probably in total. Porpoises showing fairly well off & on. 

Sea Trust/Cartlett Lady 5 hr Island Cruise.


 We left Neyland at 2 pm and headed out to sea through the Haven. Conditions were pretty calm, as we cleared the "Heads" and out into open water where we chanced on a couple of Porpoises.  It was a little overcast to begin with, brightening up as we headed out towards the Grassholm gannetry, passing by little groups of Guillemots Razorbills and Puffins. 

Arriving at Grassholm we made a leisurely circumnavigation, cameras clicking away, as we paused to get a good look at the nesting gannets, arranged in a geometric, peck away, pattern, The sky above thronged with flying gannets.which combined with the white covering of nesting gannets and guano, gives the impression of a blizzard covering the island with snow, from a distance  

Having watched Spring-watch and the outbreak of bird-flu' on the north east coast gannetrys, I had feared for them, but happily, saw no sign of sick or dead birds.It really must be the jewel in Pembrokeshires avian crown, filling all the senses with sight sound, also a bit of smell, although not so bad as it will be later in the breeding season!

Then back in towards Scomer, slowing to a walking pace as we arrived off the Garland Stone. Again we were again assailed by a cacophony of raucous sea birds, there can be no better demonstration of the health of our Pembrokeshire corner of the Atlantic, with almost every suitable nook, cranny, hole and ledge employed as nest sites by Auks, Kittiwakes Fulmars etc. Long may it remain so.

A brief look at the red sand stone cliffs of Skokholm and more auks and gulls left us a bit of time to make a wide arc back towards The haven in the hope of picking up more cetaceans, And we were not disappointed as Skipper Andrew, sighted a pod of Risso's Dolphins slowly making their way in our direction   We got some good views as they passed leisurely by, at a distance of a couple of hundred metres. we kept a distance as we shadowed them collecting and recording the data for our records, at least five individuals including what appeared to be a juvenile. And then back to Neyland, with a band of very happy punters! 

Sadly, the images are mine and not up to our usual standard as Ken Barnett was unable to join us on this trip.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Mola Mola Off the point and Tursiops off the Breakwater

Mola Mola Off the point and Tursiops off the Breakwater or to put in plain terms, Sunfish off the point and Bottlenose Dolphin off the breakwater. This is the earliest I've seen a Sunfish off Strumble and what a beauty it was too. At least a metre long but that didn't stop me thinking it was a drifting plastic bag for twenty minutes or so. It was only as I was scanning around with the binos that I recognised it as a Sunfish. Note to self "Investigate everything".

 Sadly there were no Porpoise to be seen at Strumble but when I returned to Goodwick I got a call from Cliff to say Dolphin had been reported off the breakwater. Off I went again then and as I arrived at the breakwater I could see two dolphin making their way out toward Pen Anglas. A quick stop and I managed a few shots before they went out of range. I could see several small sail boats with two ribs in attendance off the end of the breakwater so I thought they may have caused the dolphin to move on. I thought I'd go out anyway as there's always a photo op with bright sails etc. When I got there I was surprised to see three Bottlenose calmly milling around and not bothered by the boats at all. It was the mother calf pairing + one individual that we've seen several times now over the past month or so. The boats moved into the bay and the dophins stayed around for another hour or so before submerging and leaving me looking in vain for ten more minutes before I then gave up and returned home with more than enough pics in the bag. Happy days!

Play time, backwards over mother's back

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Strumble diary catch up. Concerns about NATO exercise...

 On Monday (6th June) The Monday Photo ID team were at Strumble and had distant porpoises, throughout the survey with up to five animals seen at any one time, with an estimate of c 30 animals present including at least one calf. Behaviors included foraging/travelling.

A couple of Miles north of Strumble Lloyd Nelmes was in his RIB off Pen Anglas and saw a scattered group of  approximately ten Risso's (including at least one calf) seemingly heading towards Strumble although Ken who was on station there did not see them!

Apparently there is to be a large N.A.T.O. Naval  Exercise taking place in Cardigan Bay in the coming weeks. In the past these exercises, have been associated with cetacean strandings. Lets hope that they are aware of the importance of Cardigan Bay to the UK's largest concentration of Bottlenose Dolphins and take this into account. We shall see... 

Friday, 27 May 2022

Strumble Diary 27/05/2022 Risso's on the Point

 An early session today with a 7.30am start. The weather was bright and sunny with a light NW wind. As I walked down toward my favourite perch I spotted some fins off to the east of the point but in the glare of the sun I wasn't exactly sure what they were. Certainly not porpoise but a dolphin of sorts. They continued east out of sight but I thought they may return as the ebb flow got underway. Sure enough some twenty minutes later these big fins came into view out of the shimmer and to my delight it was a group of Risso's dolphin. Not sure of the numbers as they were well spread and surfacing very eratically. I'd guess five in all but could even have been eight. Most moved through but a few remained in the area off the point for forty minutes or so. Only one porpoise came close but there were 15-20 feeding beyond camera range way out in the tide race with upward of a hundred sea birds in attendance above.


Sunday, 22 May 2022

Breakwater Bottles 22/05/2022

 Another session with our cute little calf and it's mother plus her other companion. Not sure what the relationship is between the two, possibly an older sibling of the calf that's not yet felt the need to go it's own way or maybe a sister of the calf's mother, who knows. I've mostly concentrated on the calf today but a late incident just before packing up added a touch of excitement to my day. The three had moved away from the end of the breakwater in the direction of  Pen Anglas and I thought they were on their way out. However, they obviously came accross a quick meal given away by the swirls and splashes as they chased their prey. So imagine this. You're a healthy mullet swiming along minding your own business having spent the last couple of years slowly growing and enjoying the shelter of Fishguard Harbour. It's a good day and all is well. But then in a split second you become a flying fish in the vice like grip of a dolphin and the lights go out. Not good for you but it made for a super set of images so you have my grateful thanks. Isn't nature wonderful but cruel all in the same instant. See the last three images.