Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Strumble Diary..

Verena,  a German Student who volunteered with us in 2010-11 has come back to see us, so we went to Strumble so  she could get some porpoises.  Rich Stonier was on station and had seen a big pod of 50-60 Common Dolphins pass by at speed heading towards St David's about an hour before we got there. None the less Porpoises were showing well under the Gannets so Verena saw her first Porpoises for three years !
Lets hope we manage to show her some more cetaceans before she goes home! 

Old photos

Just had these photos through from Andy Rickard - all taken from the Cartlett Lady around Pembrokeshire in the 80's and 90's!
Male Orca 1990's

Leatherback turtle nr. The Smalls 1989

Basking shark

Risso's dolphin 1990's

Monday, 25 August 2014

Common dolphin

Skokholm to St Annes Head- Sat pm, 7:00pm ish - in a rib we spotted several dolphins breaching , went to investigate and was previleged to be entertained for 10 mins or so by pod of 20 plus common dolphins - in front , underneath and right alongside boat several juveniles, v small - have some great video. Jim

Jim pickering

Video -

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!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Fishguard to Rosslare

On Wednesday (20/08/2014) I made my first crossing on the Stena Europe from Fishguard to Rosslare with Steve Rosser to survey cetaceans for Sea Trust. I had high hopes, lots of naive enthusiasm and couldn't take my eyes off the sea for the entire crossing. Unfortunately cetaceans were fairly thin on the ground with groups of Common Dolphins on the approach to Rosslare on the way out and close to Fishguard on the way back (the next day) plus a few Porpoises. We also saw two Grey Seals in-between Wales and Ireland. Seabirds were a little more exciting and highlights include at least one Great Shearwater (my first), a Sooty Shearwater, some big rafts of Manxies, four Bonxies and one Arctic Skua, lots of Common Terns, all of our breeding seabirds with young well out to sea (Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and Kittiwakes) and thirteen Dunlin flying east roughly at the halfway point. At the extreme ends there was a single Black Guillemot in Fishguard Harbour (but interestingly none at Rosslare) and  two juv Med Gulls at Rosslare.

Juv. Med Gull

Great Shearwater

Great Shearwater

Manxie over a flat sea

Raft of Manxies

Sooty Shearwater

Common Tern
And finally a big note of congratulations to Dave Astins who managed to swim from Marloes Sands to Skokholm. An amazing feat in my book even on a calm day and it was a bit choppy, so well done Dave. Dave was raising money for the Wildlife trust of South and West Wales and you can still add to his fund raising by following this link.

Eddie Stubbings, Skomer Warden


Stena Ferry Survey Fishguard-Rosslare Wed/Thurs 20/21st Aug.

Weather not as good as forecast (whats new?) but still pretty disappointing for Steve Rosser and Ed Stebbings our volunteer survey team. only a single porpoise and a small pod of common dolphins seen on the outward leg  with two porpoise sightings and another small pod of Common Dolphins on the return:
"The common dolphins on Wednesday were behaving unusually. They were breaching but the tails were not leaving the water, more like jumping and splashing like the big whales do. Not travelling."
All in all not such  a good trip saved by the Great Shearwater. (a first for Ed!) 
Tight lines

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Porpoise, commons and more


Spent July 15 - Aug 8 at Martins Haven - most mornings there appeared to be a loose group of 8-12 porpoise (inc 2 calves) off Wooltack point.

Also group of about 15 Common Dolphin (inc calves) from the dale Princess on the Grassholm trip on 4th Aug.

Also on the 3rd Aug  there was a dead what looks like to me (juvenile?) Common Dolphin at the far end of Marloes beach - the carcase (1.2m long) was in a bit of a state so assume it had been dead in the water for some time - no gulls that investigated were tempted.

Photos attached - apologies for the delay but only just got them off my son`s phone.


Steve Woolfenden

Monday, 18 August 2014


Sean and I were at strumble sunday 17th Aug 2-4pm lots of gannets and porpoises (4+) back and forth.
Rich Campbell

Saturday, 16 August 2014

An early morning visit to Strumble this morning found Richard Stonier back from his pelagic adventures off the Scillies (see Turtle report below) and peering towards Ireland through his telescope.We spent an amiable hour chatting and scouring the sea but with little reward other than a few Manxies, Fulmars, Kittiwakes etc.A distant Gannet feeding flock looked interesting but even through the 'scope were too distant to see whatever cetaceans might be part of the ensemble.

We caught on to a flock of Scoter passing west some time later and as it continued on its way we noticed the Gannets were somewhat closer...
I concentrated on the flock and soon noticed the sharp hooked fins of several, probably a dozen or so Common Dolphins including at least one small juveniles scything through the waves as they fed beneath the Gannets. Not a bad way to start the day!
The feeding flock were moving closer with the tide and it seems probable that they will be well within binocular range as the morning progresses unless something disturbs them!
RS had a single sighting of a Risso's Breaching, after I left!

Friday, 15 August 2014