Friday, 10 June 2011

Quadruple WOW - Wot a way to start the day

The Safari left for Patch 1 this morning blissfully unaware of what how the day was going to unfold – nothing unusual in that, isn’t it the same for everybody. We saw that since the Drought Orders had been announced on the news last night that it had rained heavily all night! We’re not covered by those Orders – yet! – but hopefully some of that rain will get down to the roots of the struggling new trees.

In the park we had a quick check of the Sparrowhawk’s tail, all present and correct! Further round we heard the Great Spotted Woodpecker tapping away in a dead Elm so we got the camera out. Locating the bird we moved round to get a good angle and was about to press the shutter when a friend’s dog came bounding up and unusually for this mutt started barking...the woodpecker flew – darn it!!! Probably woulda been a dark grainy shot anyway...
So we went off to work with a minor frown.
Patch 2 was about to initiate a facial change from minor frown to major ear to ear grin. A Red Letter Day was about to unfold!
We put the scope on the wall and started to scan the falling tide. Straight away we came across a small string of six Manx Shearwaters (P2 #60) – a good start. Following these they passed in front of a few Gannets but caught up with a much larger flock of Manxies, about 45 all in a line headed in towards the outer river mouth. More Gannets were noticed going that way too. Close in a Grey Seal poked its nose above the glassy wavelets and a handsome male Eider bobbed about not too far from him.
Whilst watching the Gannets fishing and the Manx Shearwaters cruising around we saw a splash far larger than those of the Gannets...a few minutes later a Bottle-nosed Dolphin breached, leaping clear out of the water - stunning! Wide-eyed we concentrated hard on that area of sea. Even better was to follow - the number of Gannets increased to about 100 and more Manxies came in; it was then we noticed there was another dolphin further out. Checking back to see if the nearer one hadn't moved offshore we saw that there were now TWO still 'close' in!!!! WOW....and then a second distant one was noted - FOUR!!!!! Having only seen one from here in the last 7 years this was utterly fantastic, we were euphoric!
For about quarter of an hour we witnessed several full breaches (only from the two distant animals) and dozens of feeding rolls. We phoned the Rangers and as we were describing what we were seeing we noticed we were actually shaking with excitement – this is what watching wildlife is all about – the totally unexpected treats - this morning ranks in the top 5 of our 45+ years worth of UK wildlife experiences!!!!!
Even if the Bottle-nosed Dolphins hadn’t have been there the show from the Gannets and Manx Shearwaters was stunning in itself. The only downside was they were too far away to even contemplate getting you a pic.

Back into the office to let the world know and get a well earned cuppa – scrap that – anyone got any champagne???
Now the politics – Bottle-nosed Dolphins in the UK at least are restricted to areas of coast adjacent to numerous good quality Salmon rivers – according to Chris Packham’s recent TV show...not Springwatch, the other one in the weeks before. Hence the Moray Firth and Cardigan Bay populations. Not sure if the ones seen off the Isle of Man are different to the Cardigan Bay ones - the Seawatch Foundation are asking people for good shots of the dorsal fins for photo-ID purposes so if you're close enough get clicking away.

But here’s the rub...Liverpool Bay has a plethora of rivers, namely the Conwy, Clwyd, Dee, Mersey, Ribble, Wyre, Lune, Bela, Kent, Levens, Crake and Duddon, some are already quality Salmon rivers others have Salmon but could have more and a couple need further improvement but all could eventually hold good populations of Salmon - so come on guys continue cleaning up those waters and stopping the run-off of excessive amounts of peat from the uplands. We could then begin to see another population of Bottle-nosed Dolphins develop and that would be tourist attraction!!! Assuming the commercial vested interests in the Salmon didn’t want a cull like they seem do for Otters, Cormorants, Herons and Ospreys, some even take it in to their own hands – allegedly – like here not that Hen Harriers eat fish but they do take another ‘commercial’ species.
At lunchtime the sea was empty, no Gannets, no Manxies, no Bottle-nosed Dolphins, not even the Eider. The Grey Seal was still there but had drifted away to the south.
Where to next? Different but equally exciting (perhaps even more so!) stuff tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what’s leaping out of the water in your outback.


Anno Brandreth said...

Bottlenose - ya bugger!

Would be nice to have a pod within squinting distance Davo...

PS added Muskrat to the Mammal list last week in France - superb!

The Anno.

Warren Baker said...

Good on yer Dave, you deserve all that excitement, may you get more to come :-)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hey there Muskey...wouldn't they be introduced 'vermin' Anno?

Nearly p**d my pants with excitement Warren and if it's sunny tomorrow......crikey....



Anno Brandreth said...

Vermin??!! Outrageous scurrilous rumour...

Made a good coat from all accounts!

Plenty of Pool Frogs to munch on too.