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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dolphins and Dippers


Just back from a short break in South Wales seeing the family and I was able to go on a few wildlife jaunts. Red Kites are often seen from the M4 now and I saw 2 singleton Red Kites one near Reading and one near Chieveley, which enlightened the drive there. The local stream was home to an obliging Dipper albeit in very poor light and my 4 visits to the steam were rewarded in Dipper sightings every time. Overhead the odd Raven would fly over plus on one memorable occasion a female Peregrine. The grass verges held populations of Ringlet, Green- veined White and Meadow Brown butterflies as well as Banded and 1 Beautiful Demoiselle. A trip (on Sunday 10th July) to Dinas RSPB is always rewarding (with Red Kite seen just past Manor Deilo on the jouney theree) and Redstarts were plentiful with a male seen flying out of a bush and briefly onto stone wall just before I got there and a female was seen flying away from the carpark, another female was seen by the start of the boardwalk and the middle section of the boardwalk whilst 2 Redstarts were seen in a tree by the edge of the hill. Wood Warblers were also plentiful with a family of 5 by the mid boardwalk area and another 3 by the trees by the hill at the end off the boardwalk. A couple of Nuthatches and Treecreepers were also seen plus a Vivaparous Common Lizard basking on some heather that eventually proved very photogenic as it kept returning to the same spot. An immature Dipper was seen briefly on the river too. A Red Kite was seen soaring over Llandovery on the journey back.
On Monday 11th June I travelled to Newquay a lovely seaside resort on Cardigan Bay and I paid £18 for a two hour boat trip in perfect sunny and calm conditions searching for Dolphins and other Cetaceans. Although the nearby seabird cliffs had been virtually deserted by nesting Auks, I did see 5 Guillemots on a ledge, 2 further birds in the water and around 12 Razorbills flew past the boat out to see. The nesting Kittiwakes were still around and I was able to view them at a more natural location than the Kittiwake wall off the South Pier at Lowestoft!
I was delighted to spot and photograph a Compass Jellyfish as we stopped to look at 2 very distant Harbour Porpoises.
A further 13 Compass Jellyfish were seen on the trip. Somebody shouted and I looked around and saw a loud splash in the water surely it must be a Dolphin, sure enough the grey back and long sickle shaped fin proved it was an excellent Bottlenose Dolphin, the only trouble was it was swimming away from us at a rapid rate of knots!
We went to the far end of the bay and initially we couldn't see any further Dolphins, but as soon as the Captain announced we were going to turn back when we saw a lot of cetacean activity with 5 Bottlenose Dolphins seen. 2 adults and a calf, the adults breeched several times and jumped out of the water putting on a fine display for the enthralled onlookers!
We were supposed to stay 50 yards away from the Dolphins but they were very inquisitive and one of their number decided to take a very closse look at us!
On two memorable occasions a large adult Bottlenose Dolphin swam under the boat and surfaced just feet away with stunning naked eye views(but too close for my 150mm and 500mm camera lenses!!!)
We even heard them communicating to each other with a series of clicking noises as a researcher on the boat lowered an echo transmitter/ recorder, even the captain of the boat had got his camera out to get pictures, wonderful stuff!
Pictures to follow.

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