Volunteers Bea and Charlotte tell us about the last week...
Thursday saw the all female 'Hula Balullas' and 'Ginger Ninjas' crews commandeer Pagan, a sailboat, from Pwllheli to Bardsey Island and back. Skipper and willing amateur conservationist, Jacki Clark, came all the way from Macclesfield to meet us in Pwllheli marina, where we discussed the day's plan and safety briefing over hot chocolates in her comfortable cabin.
The trip started well at midday, with the sun shining and good sightings of grey herons, cormorants and oystercatchers at at the mouth of the marina.
Our spirits were high, but unfortunately, so were the waves..... once out of the harbour we soon realised the extent of the swell, which make it a tricky day for spotting cetaceans. But there was plenty of other wildlife to be seen.....
On the south end of Bardsey, in a quiet bay, almost fifty Atlantic grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) were spotted basking on the rocks. Among them were pups, some being only a day old, still adorning their fluffy white coats. Curious adults surrounded the boat trying to decipher the unexpected visitors.
Reaching the North end of Bardsey Island, the waters were littered with sea birds, including puffins in their winter attire, Guillemots, Razorbills and mixed sea gulls. Northern Gannets were also seen circling above the surface, which can be used as a good indicator for fish shoal presence and feeding marine mammals. We circled the area hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive Risso's dolphins, which had been sighted of the Island's north end days prior to our visit. Although there were numerous birds circling and resting on the surface, no harbour porpoise , Risso's or bottlenose dolphins were sighted.
At around 4.20pm it was time to start the return journey to Pwllheli and so we sailed with the wind behind us. It was great to be out on the water at this time, with the sun setting behind us casting a beautiful glow and we kept ourselves entertained on the three hour journey back with jovial sing alongs to the harmonica and tin whistle. Although a very enjoyable day there were no cetaceans recorded. However, later on a report came in from the Bardsey crew 'Life Aquatic', of seven Risso's dolphins, traveling past the North end of Bardsey, the exact spot we had been earlier- such a close miss! The dolphins were recorded as breaching the water, foraging and milling about half a mile of the coast.
At the end of the week the crew changed over, with 3 new members joining us from head office. Angela, Rachel and Pete have settled in well. Pete heading over to join Rob on the island and Sam returning to join the mainland crew. The weather has been perfect for spotting over the last few days, with calm seas and glorious sunshine, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are in North Wales in October! We have had lots of harbour porpoise sightings from both the mainland platforms, which, along with the fine weather, have put big smiles on our faces!
P.S. We have also had a great sightings of a sheep rock climbing at St.Mary's Well. We have named him 'Cliff- the extreme sheep'!