Monday 25 August 2014

Sea creatures great and small

This time last year I found my sea legs and did three pelagics out of the Isles of Scilly looking for seabirds. I kept my lunch down on each so, thus emboldened, I booked again this year, timed to fit in with a family holiday to Cornwall (they're camping, so I was surplus to requirements). The first two pelagics under the belt were a bit slow on the bird front but enjoyable, highlights being close encounters with a pod of Common Dolphin, a Great Shearwater, a Sooty Shearwater and some diminutive European Storm Petrels - always a marvel to sea these sea-going waifs struggle against the conditions.
A single Great Shearwater swung around the stern of the MV Sapphire before heading out to sea again
A very elegant bird
Far commoner in the waters around our coast is the Manx Shearwater - these two were photographed from the deck of Scillonian III on the way over
This one was photographed from the MV Sapphire looking back at the Isles of Scilly (St Agnes coastguards on the left and lighthouse on the right)
A Manx Shearwater would occasionally follow the boat when we were dragging a bag of chum
This one was mixing it in among the gulls at the back of the boat
A Sooty Shearwater also came in close to the stern
Banking both ways, the autofocus found it surprisingly difficult to lock onto this bird...
A few shots from many taken were sharp, however
This view shows the silvery under-wing...
...and this one the long thin wings...
...while this shows surprisingly long legs, the toes of which protrude beyond the tail in flight
A very feisty bird which showed aggression when fighting for scraps with much larger gulls
The Sooty would land in the wake, take off and catch the boat up at will
Storm Petrel pattering on the surface of the chum slick
A pale phase Arctic Skua caused some consternation among the other seabirds following the boat
Gannets also moved in from time to time
Like the Shearwaters, Gannets also skim the surface with their wingtips
A family party of Common Dolphin joined the boat at one point - this the only sharp shot I managed
A dramatic end to the Friday night pelagic

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