Friday, 12 February 2016

A Quiet Morning

I arrived near to the top of the big flood tide with an easterly wind blowing. I wasn't expecting to see much as this is generally a poor state for sightings. An hour in though and a small group of porps came in from the north and started feeding well out in the tide race. Had the sea not been so calm I might well have missed them as they were so far out. Cliff joined me late on and after thirty minutes or so they tailed off and we called it a day. Other sightings were two grey seals various Auks and several divers.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Near Normal Service Resumed

After the blast that was Storm Imogen things at Strumble are slowly returning to normal. Except for some still very cloudy waters around the shore and outcrops the porps are slowly returning to their daily routines. Due to the superb visibility and excellent light several porps were observed to the west of the lighthouse but way out around a mile and a half with another group off to the right (east) of the lookout passed mackerel point and moving toward Fishguard Bay. Some of you may remember my post of thge 20th January where I captured in camera a seal with a nasty wound on it's neck due to a rope entanglement. Well, happy to say it's still alive and the wound is healing, see image below. The not so good news though is that the rope is still around it's neck. I'll try and keep an eye on it as the weeks go by.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Imogen Won

Well I think it's safe to say that Storm Imogen won today. I also think the porps had more sense than me as they were obviously sheltering whereas I ventured out to see if they were there. With swells up to thirty plus feet and winds gusting to in excess of 60Mph I was glad that the old lookout stood there for shelter. A couple of seals braved the swells but that was the only marine life on show for me today. Many birds mostly Auks passed by and the most unfortunate was a Shag which as it passed the lookout was flapping away and actually going backwards. Eventually it tired and was blown out some two hundred metres and was so battered it was ditched in the sea and as far as I could see was overcome by the huge swells. I have included a few images to show what the conditions were like (forgive me Cliff) as I think it's good to let people see the way the porps environment can be in these extreme conditions.

West side of Carreg Onnen Bay

Lone Grey Seal wondering where to go next.

40-50ft Tsunami type wave washes over the Stumble Bank.

The poor Shag mentione above.

A better moment as the sky broke over the lighthouse.

Rock outcrops some 80mtrs out exposed by the deep troughs. I've never seen this before.

30-40ft swells straight out from the lookout.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Strumble Diary storms again! porps again!

So whilst Ken goes off to the sunny south of England, I am left here in wild west Wales, trying to picture porps without either his equipment or his talent! Luckily I do have a fair share of that other essential, dogged determination!
It was a bit of a nightmare with horrible visibility, drizzle turning to rain and a whipped up sea. The tide was beginning to make and i was hoping that as it did, the porpoises would get a bit nearer and giver me a chance of a shot,
Several divers passed by before dropping onto the sea off the lighthouse I fired off shots at almost anything that moved in the hope that my reflexes would sharpen and when the porps got closer I might get something.

But after an hour of pointing and missing I  finally got something...

OK not much but something!

Of course a 30,000 tonne super ferry is not that easy to miss, so no real credit for this shot but it gives a fair idea of what conditions were like! Eventually I did get a pic  of something recognizable as a Porpoise...

I reckon given the conditions I did alright in the end! five minutes later the rain set in and bad light stopped play. Still more evidence to show why Strumble head categorically qualifies as a  stand alone Harbour Porpoise SAC by which anywhere else should be judged!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Strumble Diary 04/02/16

Just time to catch a few hours at Strumble before a few days off on family duties. A very quiet day weatherwise today with light Westerly winds and heavy low cloud. Shooting conditions were not good but as Cliff says it's the recording that's important. Being calmer it was easier to see the Porps out in the race and I'd say there were about twenty in all scattered over a half mile or so. Cliff and Barbara joined me for thirty minutes or so before I left so a bit of company was appreciated. Over to you now Cliff for a few days.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Strumble Diary: Photographic evidence leading the way!

Kens diligence even in adverse conditions paid off today with what looks like some sort of extremely close interaction between at least four Porpoises which we suspect was probably a/several males showing interest in a female . Had conditions not been so adverse the liaison might have been observed in  more detail but without this kind of photographic evidence most of this would happen unrecorded!
Bit by bit we build the picture! Bit by bit  citizen scientists tread a path as yet untrodden ...

Strumble Diary 03/02/16 AM.

Arrived at Strumble this morning as the skies began to clear and an hour or so after low water. I wasn't expecting to see much with the wind quite strong from the NNW. Indeed it was a while before I sighted a porp far out in the tide race and that was very brief. Scanning with the binos as you do for a while I was resigned to the fact it was an early lunch, but as I dropped my binos from my eyes I caught sight of what at first glance looked like a log bobbing in the swells a few hundred feet off. A closer look revealed four porps rafting and it's my guess that it was three males seeking the favours of a female with a young calf. They sort of lolled about on the surface passing the lookout quite slowly which gave me a good opportunity for some images. Unfortunitely by the time I got the lens on them they had separated a little but still remained in close persuit.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Strumble Diary 02/02/2016

A better day today with a reduced swell and great light. The wind was still strong but the slight change in direction gave much easier spotting conditions. Cliff acted as spotter and guided me onto the action which was mostly off the lighthouse to the west of the lookout. Cliff departed to the Ocean lab and I stayed a bit longer in the hopes of a Risso or two but alas still no show. One interesting shot though was of seagulls feeding on what looks like the skin and fatty flesh of a marine mammal. A small porpoise perhaps but it's hard to tell.

The its good to have a Ken!

Ken Barnett showed his skills yesterday getting pic's where I missed them, He also published the results on Whales in Wales which he would not have normally done because by his high standards they were not the sort of thing he normally would. However I have begged him to do so because they are records and help build the argument for Strumble to be designated as a Harbour Porpoise SAC which his work is invaluable! I think today there may be a couple of shots that even Ken will be quite pleased with !

Monday, 1 February 2016

Strumble Diary 01/02/16 (A Trying Day)

As I pulled up to the car park at Strumble Cliff with seat in hand was making his way back to his car after having a morning session at the lookout. A quick chat established that sightings were difficult and far out. So it was that I settled in for a couple of hours in mild but very windy conditions. Appart from the 15-20ft swells these were topped off with very loppy six foot waves at times. Sightings were hard and brief and also very hard to track in the conditions. I did see a distant Rissos but it proved impossible to track and capture. For once I had more frames in the camera without Porps than with them. A lot of shots of some lovely seas though.

I think this one illustrates the difficulties of tracking and capturing these images. An 18inch fin atop a 15ft swell and almost obscured by a loppy six foot wave. Add to that just a second and a half visibility as they come up to breath and you can see how at times it's quite a challenge.