Sunday, 20 August 2017

Feeding frenzies

There were massive seabird feeding frenzies seen from pelagic trips out of the Isles of Scilly the day before my arrival and the day after my departure for three trips out on the Sapphire earlier this month. I might have felt a bit cheated but for the fact that we encountered our own on the return journey on Scillonian III on the Sunday evening. We were approaching the mainland not far from the Wolf Rock lighthouse when Manx Sheawaters and Short-beaked Common Dolphins started appearing in large numbers.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin  - this one was taken on a pelagic on 5th August
Common Dolphin from Scillonian III
One from earlier in the day on the Sapphire
Views of Great Shearwater from Scillonian III were exceptional
A steady stream of Great Shearwaters crossed our bows as we headed for Penzance
There are five Great Shearwaters in this shot alone - the view for several hundred yards ahead of us was similar
Sooty Shearwater from Scillonian III
Manx Shearwater from Scillonian III
Cory's Shearwater from Scillonian III

Manx Shearwater
We disturbed several rafts of Manxies as we steamed through, and on close inspection some of the rafts appeared to contain more Great than Manx Shearwaters. The odd Sooty and Cory's were also present. There were birds on the water as far as the eye could see and when dolphins started to cause the surface of the water to boil it felt like we were approaching the centre of the action. This was confirmed shortly afterwards when a whale appeared to blow some distance ahead. I readied the camera as we approached the spot and managed to get a few shots of a Minke Whale surfacing close to the ship.
First view of the Minke was quite distant
A dolphin surfaces behind the Minke Whale as Manx Shearwaters track it in the air
The next time the Minke Whale surfaced it was much closer to the ship

Several flocks of Arctic Terns were seen at sea
Arctic Tern
Fulmar is a frequent companion on pelagic trips

Gannet with rising Moon behind
Great Skua was seen on all three pelagics
Close scrutiny of photos revealed this to be an adult Long-tailed Skua
Sooty Shearwater with Bishop Rock lighthouse behind

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