Today's entry is from WDCS' science volunteer Pablo who joins us in Wales for the first time this week.
As my first taste of cetacean field work, this year’s Bardsey Island surveys have already far surpassed the high hopes I had when I arrived on the Lleyn peninsula on Monday. Much of my drive up through central Wales was a disappointing view of some serious fog; little did I know the best was still to come. The views surrounding our mansion like caravan and survey points are simply breath taking. If you want a taste of New Zealand for a fraction of the price, get yourself over to North Wales!
After two heavy sleeps and a day interrupted by weather, our work was to begin Wednesday morning. It didn’t take me long to discover that Plan A’s just don’t happen when trying to get to a certain Bardsey Island… Me and Rob have now settled into the mainland caravan as our plans to get across to Bardsey have been scuppered (I’m secretly fairly relieved after learning that my toilet for a week was going to be a bucket and some grass!). Even a day trip was out of the question, a burst sewage pipe saw to that! However, the subsequent days have more than made up for any of those minor inconveniences.
The first afternoon of surveys could not have been any more enjoyable. The sun was shining, the wind was low and the porpoises were feeding. To top it all off, Rob somehow spotted a very distant pod of around 15 Risso’s dolphins! They were a fantastic sight. After adding in the diving gannets, acrobatic choughs, a resident kestrel and a very inquisitive Wheatear you’d be hard pushed to find a better wildlife spot in the UK.
All was not so glamorous come Thursday morning when the realities of field work in the UK hit home. It was cold and the wind made it feel as though we were having our aerodynamics tested in a wind tunnel. No porpoise activity in the morning certainly added to our frustration. But once again the understated harbour porpoises made all efforts worthwhile. The afternoon had cleared up and a group of porpoises had once again come in to feed.
The harbour porpoise is not the flashiest of cetaceans, but the brief, mysterious glimpses they give you only add to the experience of observing them from afar. There was no sign of the elusive Risso’s dolphins on Thursday, but you can’t have it all everyday!It looks as though the weather could close in for the next couple of days so much time could be spent in ‘the office’ (a local pub which conveniently has free Wi-Fi). Life could be worse….