Monday, 14 August 2017

Scilly Pelagic no 5 - Great Skua tucking in!

Another BIG three session this evening, we headed south with a 15mph Southerly. A single Wilson's Petrel, 16 Cory's Shearwater, mostly distant and 9 Great Shearwaters made up the target birds! Most were not imageworthy but here's a Great...



We also saw 4 Bonxies,  the archetypal 'bad guys'!




One of which provided the final piece of action this evening at the expense of an unfortunate juvenile Gull. Bonxies are seen every trip, regularly harrassing the Gulls and Shearwaters but this one went a step further this evening!

After attacking and stunning the Gull, it proceeded to drown it, we were slowly drifting nearby...




The next stage was to pluck and expose the meal within...





It's a tough life at sea and the food chain is much as on land regarding predator and prey...


The Skua needs to eat and if the morsels from regurgitated food aren't enough, this is the next resort!



The Gull was unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! We left the Skua in peace...


As these two Great Shearwaters drifted into the dusk...

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Scilly pelagic no 4 - The 'ultimate' part 1

I'm not sure if words and a few images can convey the amazing events of a six hour session session on the sea 4 miles south of St Mary's today but I'll try?

An 8.00 am start and a bit of an excited buzz on the boat!




It was one of those calm days (10mph westerly) when some might say "not worth bothering"!
Light winds aren't good for Shearwaters!

But if they are there, it makes the day even better! We didn't just have one's and twos shearing past the boat it was double figures 'close' on occasions, here's a typical fly past...



And singling Cory's Shearwater out for starters, they were still effortlessly managing to glide and shear!




A bit further out, this individual was hugging the water, literally inches away, shearing for Garfish. Both Richard Stonier and I got similar images. Maybe this 'Cory' could be the next bad guy for Pixar animations?


A small group featuring four species, the missing Balearic was seen later in the day but this was astonishing stuff. I thought I'd died and gone to (seabird) heaven??


With so many opportunities, the Cory's just kept coming to steal the show early on!



Photo bombing this Sooty and Great on the water!



Backdrop after backdrop (hardly a Manxie in sight sometimes)


You literally didn't know which way to turn? Given the conditions, why were they all here? The simple answer was 'Tuna'! Groups of large Atlantic Bluefin Tuna were engaged in feeding frenzy.




These guys can get up to a colossal siz (c 1,000lb) so relatively small specimens in view but as they were tearing throughtthe shoals of fish they were providing spoils for the Shearwaters... Joe got an amazing image with the head out of the water, I had to settle for fins!


Great Shearwater calling, hypnotic sounds from the ocean!




I don't think I'd ever seen a Cory's on the water before? They were lining up!!


And it wasn't just about the birds. This Minke Whale rolled just 50m out from the boat!






Of course, one bird missing so far was Wilson's Petrel and the BIG Three run continued with four seen today. Here's one of them...



More to come and to kick off part two - large Shearwaters getting airborne...


Playing the numbers game: 1200 Cory's, 550 Great, 250 Sooty, innumerable 4000+ Manx Shearwaters, not mention 4 Wilson's Petrel. The experienced locals, Bob, Ash, Joe, Higgo all with 600+ trips under their belt had never seen the like of it either and there's more to come!

Scilly Pelagic no 4 - The Ultimate part 2

One sure thing about a Shearwater on the water is the fact that it will eventually fly! And with so much going on, the panic of missing out on another frenzy meant take off moments were commonplace!

Not exactly Usain Bolt but once this Great Shearwater gets to full speed, its up up and away...







Having commented that I'd rarely seen Cory's Shearwater on the water, it was magic to watch them return to the air!










Meanwhile back on the water... We all know the outcome of plastic of plastic items at sea? They are there for a long long time!


But this Cory's was attempting in vain to recycle this bucket lid!



A backlit Sooty Shearwater...



And here's the Balearic Shearwater we had all been hoping for too! 








Finally,  a resume of yet another BIG three, successfully notched up!

Cory's Shearwater...


Great Shearwater ...


Wilson's Petrel...


The day isn't done yet!!