Monday, August 21, 2006

Biscay pelagic

Sunday 13 Aug - Weds 16 Aug
Well, I booked this Ultimate Pelagics trip two years ago (at Birdfair 2004) and Liz and I boarded the MV Van Gogh at Falmouth on Sunday 13 Aug with 570+ other cetacean and seabird hopefuls.

The weather was fab - too fab. A little bit of unsettled weather before the trip amy have helped things, especially seabirds, which have been low in Biscay this year, with continued high pressure and flat-calm seas seeing them dispersing over the vast ocean area. It did however provide great cetacean watching conditions.

Liz in relaxed birding mode!

Sunset somewhere over Biscay

I did however give up on trying photo things as apart form being so high up on this large vessel, watching was the priority! I'm attempting to tap up a few friends for any snaps they may have got and drop them in on here later on.

Sunrise over the canyons off northern Spain

What did we see?

These are the rough trip totals with our sightings in brackets (a - = no count available) -

Harbour Porpoise 4 (0)
Common Dolphin 1150+ (100s)
Striped Dolphin 750+ (100s)
Bottle-nosed Dolphin 50+ (10+)
Risso's Dolphin 19 (8)
Pilot Whale 85+ (40+)
Fin Whale / Large Rorqual 70+ (40+) many on blow only
Sei Whale 1 (0)
Sperm Whale 3 (1 - blow only)
Cuvier's Beacked Whale 23 (7+)
Sowerby's Beaked Whale 5 (0)
Beaked Whale sp 17 (10+)

Atlantic Sunfish - (2)
Flying fish - (2)

Fulmar 60+ (40+)
Cory's Shearwater 10 (2)
Great Shearwater 2 (2)
Little Shearwater 5 (4)
Manx Shearwater 4 (2)
Sooty Shearwater 10 (4)
Balearic Shearwater 6 (3)
European Storm-petrel 130+ (60+)
Wilson's Storm-petrel 1 (0)
Gannet 150+ (60+)
Cormorant 1 (1)
Common Scoter 6 (0)
European Golden Plover 6 (0)
Dunlin 20 (10+)
Turnstone 1 (1)
Whmbrel 2 (2)
Bar-tailed Godwit 54+ (50+)
Grey Phalarope 1 (0)
Great Skua 8 (4)
Arctic Skua 3 (1)
Black-headed Gull 1 (0)
Herring Gull 30+ (-)
Lesser Black-backed Gull 30+ (-)
Kittiwake 15+ (5)
Sabine's Gull 8 (5)
Little Tern 2 (2)
Sandwich Tern 6 (1)
Common Tern 80+ (-)
Arctic Tern 4 (1)
Black Tern 17 (10+)
Tree Pipit 2 (1)
Reed Warbler - (1)
Sedge Warbler 4 (1)
Melodious Warbler 3 (0)
Willow Warbler 10+ (7)
Northern Wheatear 2 (1)
Spotted Flycatcher 1 (0)

Painted Lady - (2)
Hummingbird Hawkmoth - (10+)

Willow Warbler on board on a derek. One of many warblers seen on baord during the trip

Some brief highlights and timings of 'our' cruise -

Monday 14 Aug
0600 on deck
0600 - 1100 Common and Striped Dolphins, Bonxies, Turnstone, Willow Warbler (2), Kittiwakes, Great Shearwater (great views), more Pilot Whales in one logging close to ship, Fin Whales inc two together close to ship, Risso's Dolphin, Painted Lady
1150 - 1230 Sabine's Gull (one fairly distant in wake), Tree Pipit, Stormies, Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Cormorant, more close Fin Whales (in addition to many more distant blows), Hummingbird Hawkmoths (several) (lunch at 1230)
1345 - 2015 first Little Shearwater, more Fin Whales, Sperm Whale blow - very sunny and hot! Three Willow Warblers, more Fin Whales very close to ship (inc George found by Liz - don't ask!), Little Terns and Arctic Tern with Common Terns, a second Little Shearwater, Manxies, Black Terns, several Hummers, chumming at 1930 only atracted several stormies and last bird of the dat, a Balearic Shearwater at 2005.

Tuesday 15 Aug (paid a bit more attention to making notes today!)
0645 on desk (late! missed a few Cuvier's Beacked Whales and a Little Shearwater and three Melodious Warblers already!)
0700 Stormies
0715 our first four Cuvier's Beaked Whales
0720 Northern Wheatear
0740 more beaked whales sp
0750 two beaked whale sp up by the ship blowing and sounding
0810 cracking views of a single Cory’s Shearwater
0900 very good views of a single Little Shearwater
0955 those on our small deck glimpse a Leatherback Turtle before it gets lost in the wake edge
1015 great views of a Reed Warbler in one of the lifeboats
1105 more good views of Fin Whales inc two blowing in sych
1130 c.20 Pilot Whales pile past
1145 the first of our Flying Fish – great views as it flew long the ship right below us
1230 the first of many ‘Tuna boils’ with fish leaping all over the place. At least two different species involved
1235 good views of 7+ Risso’s Dolphins
1240 about 20+ Striped Dolphins by the ship – first close ones for some time
1410 school of 80+ dolphins go unidentified. Rush Veneer on deck
1420 the second of our really good views of Flying Fish (a couple of other glimpses don’t get called due to the good views we’ve had)
1430 great views of an adult Sab’s Gull – down to yellow tip on the bill
1435 our first Atlantic Sunfish is a small one right below us
1510 a lot more Tuna activity with a few boils around attracting Common and Black Terns and . . .
1515 . . . a Sab’s Gull – another adult, and more great views
1520 more Black Terns
1525 another (?) adult Sab’s feeding around different Tuna boils
1715 good views of a single Great Shearwater
1720 the first of a run of Sooty Shears including one found by a proud Liz!
1820 our second sunfish is a bit bigger this time
1840 good views of a single pale phase Arctic Skua
1855 the run of Sooties continues

Those idiots that went solely for birds were a bit diappointed (ha!) but we had a fab time. What more can I say. See you next time?

1 comment:

Roger B. said...

That's quite a tally!