Once we were underway our seabird and cetacean survey started with a plethora of Herring Gulls in their bewildering variety of plumages that they have a this time of year. Once we reached the river mouth the Common Terns were passing too and fro from the nature reserve at the end of the dock, the ones coming in were all carrying small fish although we didn't get to see the location of their fishing grounds. Just one was going the 'wrong' way to the next nearest colony some distance away in the other river but why fish here when 'our' colony's birds were coming from that direction or was the fish brought in deemed unsuitable and had to be taken away!
Once well out of the river and in 'open' water the Gannets and Manx Shearwaters started to show and become more and more frequent but there were very few Kittiwakes out there today.
Many of the Gannets were becalmed in the light winds and flat sees, most were just sitting on the water and very very few were fishing. That is until the boat was closing them down at 20+ knots and threatened to run them over, only then did they lift and fly out of the way.
We tried to get a few pics but failed miserably, her's the only one we dared keep and even then we've only included it in a highly processed state - the original is just about unviewable and this is by far the best!
|No, that paler blotch isn't what you first thought it was|
The first cetaceans weren't far off and were probably just out of sight over the horizon from Patch 2, a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins, sadly they didn't stick around. Harbour Porpoises followed later in small groups. Bizarelly all were first seen dead ahead of the ship, the last Bottlenose Dolphin came out of nowhere at us almost like a Mediaeval jouster - and whoosh went straight down the side of the ship padding only yards away.
Once past the Isle of Man the weather closed in and rain started making spotting somewhat difficult but we passed through it and out the other side the approach to Belfast was very pleasant with another Harbour Porpoise.
Highlight of the trip for us is looking out for the Black Guillemots that inhabit Belfast Loch, somehow they remind us of mad moths, particularly Humming Bird Hawkmoths for some reason.
Tired but content in the knowlwdg3e we'd done a good job helping contribute to the knowledge of our brilliant marine life and hence its conservation for the future, we had a couple of well earned beers of a certain Irish species.
If you fancy joining the survey teams there's a list of the forthcoming training courses for the rest of the year is here - we look forward to having join us on a survey one day.
The return to Liverpool, actually Birkenhead, is overnight but at this time of year it's light enough to have your fill of the great (and becoming more imposing with some interesting designs) skyline as the ferry approaches it's berth.
Don't know why we didn't get a pic of the Ruby Princess that was docked at the Pier Head when we were leaving - one huge ship!
The drive back to Base Camp was witness to a sad carnage of Hedgehogs, there were far too many recently killed, some from their position on the road looked as though they'd been deliberately murdered rather than unavoidably accidentally hit.
Nothing much of note in the garden at Base Camp this arvo but our Extreme Photographer has very kindly fixed our moth trap socket before he sets off on an adventure to wildest west Wales at the end of the week - for ever! We're going to miss his company on safari but he promises to keep his camera handy and send pics for us to show you what he's been finding on his travels.
In the meantime let us know who's been leading the charge in your outback.