Thursday, 17 September 2015

Risso's dolphins Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire

It was a beautiful, calm day at Strumble Head today with flat turquoise seas, perfect for cetacean watching. I'd gone to the headland specifically to look for Risso's dolphins which are regularly seen here, with up to four reported over the past day or two. Almost immediately I saw several harbour porpoise close inshore, and looking a little further out I spotted a couple of common dolphins jumping out of the water. Finally, after a search of around a couple of hours, I spotted the tall falcate dorsal fin of a Risso's dolphin. Then I saw that there were three other animals close by. They feed on squid deep under water at night, and are apparently  usually seen moving slowly on the surface during the day, but these were anything but slow today. They crashed through the water at pace, often changing direction suddenly as if chasing something, almost killer whale like in their behaviour and with their tall fins. They can't have been hunting, so perhaps they were just playing. Then one jumped completely out of the water and I could see it's white head and face, and I could see the diagnostic scratch marks along its body. I watched them for several minutes as they jumped again, before they vanished and the sea was calm again. A tremendous experience.

On such a calm day I wasn't expecting to much sea bird activity, but I did see a fly-by grey phalarope and at least four black terns, but apart from that just a couple of Manx shearwaters and no skuas.

Year: 254 (Grey phalarope)

Cetacean watching at Strumble Head.

This pale juvenile buzzard really had me excited for a bit.

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