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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Biscay 2014

Another excellent 2 days in Biscay with Slap, the Wader and Russ. A later trip than we have undertaken previously so some concerns about an unfavourable sea state, but we need not have worried as conditions were pretty good throughout.

Yesterday - Sooty Shearwater 1, Balearic Shearwater 1, Great Shearwater 15, Cory's Shearwater 6, Bonxie 2, Arctic Tern 1,  Common Tern 2, Black Tern 1,  Tern sp a few, Wigeon 5,  Fulmar, Gannet. Numbers of large whales in the Bay have been disappointing recently but we did manage a showy Fin Whale in the Southern Bay, along with 4 other large whales (prob Fins). Dolphin numbers were lower than usual with around 90 Common Dolphins, 2 Bottle-nosed Dolphins & 20 Dolphin sp. The main highlight were 2 Culvier's Beaked Whales around an hour before Santander. Also 5 Ocean Sunfish.

Today - The Northern Bay again proved good for seabirds, with the main highlight being several large flocks of Balearic Shearwaters very close to the boat as we passed Ouessant, including one of 111 birds. Totals - Great Shearwater 13, Sooty Shearwater 2,  Manx Shearwater 1,  Balearic Shearwater c450, Arctic Skua 1, Bonxie 6, Storm Petrel c50, Sandwich Tern 3, Med gull 1, Sabine's Gull 16, Gannet, Fulmar. On the Whale and Dolphin front we managed 20 Common Dolphins,  5 Harbour Porpoise & 8 Bottle-nosed Dolphins.

Plenty of passerines flying along side the boat during the 2 days with the strangest on board guest being a Quail ! Leatherback Turtle also seen but not by us unfortunately! Overall, as per usual excellent value for money and roll on next year! Slap will provide an update on the on-board entertainment shortly and if you don't like shots of Gannets avoid the blog for the next few weeks !


Slaphead said...

It was an excellent trip, the Balearics were incredible.It goes to show that even though there were just 4 of us on deck 6 and there were 90 odd on the top deck, we managed to see Culviers,where as they did not, not everything is on the horizon!

This years onboard entertainment,just like previous years did not disappoint, the fist act, a vocalist, a performer we compared to Beyonce in that we think it was a female but could'nt be 100% sure, the second act up, a magician, he made Paul Daniels look impressive and must be the only magician in history to make a living setting light to toilet roll whilst prancing around the stage like Bambi in a Disney cartoon, the third act was a tribute band to The Beegees, they resembled the brothers Gibb only in that there were 3 of them! however, none could sing or play a musical instrument to a level that would have been remotely entertaining. Lastly the star on board was none other than 'Bill Packham', we had hoped he would wecite the wed wed wobin wan wound the twee, but alas we were let down when he flatly wefused, when asked if Ms Strachan ever did a turn,Mr. Packham stated that " she is wealy,wealy wild", make your own mind up.

On the return journey, Alex a well known cartographer and geologist, pointed out a small outcrop of rock to a passenger and enlightened him when he told him the rock was in fact Fraggle, the passenger was as pleased a Punch for learning that.

50bcd424-400b-11e4-a2e4-8f6bc056f52b said...

Further to post 13,I'm back home after crossing Biscay on a yacht. Longest leg Padstow to Corruna. It was made longer as we tried to go Padstow to Bayona but had to turn back at Finnisterre due to gales. We eventually got stuck in Bayona (North Spain) due to persistent Gale force 6-9 southerlies with the boat now unable to move until Sunday at the earliest. The trip was great for a number of reasons. Seabirds, we were yards away from Great, Balearic and Cory's shear with Manx and Sooties also seen well. Four species of Skua, 5 of species of tern and good numbers of sabs were also seen well. I also saw numbers of petrels zipping around the place like waders or sat on the water (one flock of 16). I never saw one clearly enough to put them to species as the movement of the yatch plus the movement of the birds meant the views weren't good enough. I think there were both Storm and Wilson's. We saw hundreds of dolphins with both common and bottlenose regularly alongside. We had a minke alongside and two more sightings of big whales, 1 sighting of 2 pilot whales, a group of around 20 porpoises with small calves followed us for around half an hour. I saw a sunfish breach and we also had one alongside the boat, a couple of big fish were also seen breaching. A few times we saw dolphins at night in phosphorescent green light. We also had Wood and Willow warbler, robin and Dunlin land on the boat far from land, the birds inches away from us. The robin was sat on the ship's wheel whilst it was being used. Wheatear (5), white wagtail, a bunting, turnstone, ringed plover and a short eared owl also went by. The owl was 100 miles off shore and most of the rest were 50-70 miles offshore. Great trip but very hard work.

50bcd424-400b-11e4-a2e4-8f6bc056f52b said...

The last post was by John O'Sullivan