As many would have noticed, I have been AWOL for a few weeks now. Home life is getting very busy at present, baby due in a few weeks and all the necessary build up for that, but on top of that I am moving house. Some timing I hear you cry!!!
I have not been entirely preoccupied with with all of this however, I have found a little time to sneak away to do some Birding and associated wildlife exploration.
07/08/2015: I made the reckless decision to drive to Falmouth and back from Portsmouth in a single day and partake in a 7 hr wildlife cruise with the, frankly amazing Captain Keith of AK Wildlife Cruises. Two days before the cruise the Captain had called me to confirm he would be doing the 7 hour not the four hour and as I had totally forgotten that I had booked the trip at the time I fear I was a little rude on the phone owing to the fact I thought someone was trying to sell me something. Alas the Captain did not seem perturbed by this and so it was at 0900 on the day I met Keith and the other patrons at the gate to Falmouth Premier Marina with eager anticipation as to what the day might bring.
Before even leaving the Carrick Roads we were adding Shag, Peregrine, Fulmar, a plethora of Gulls and Grey Seal. As we emerged into the Channel our first glimpse of Harbour Porpoise were had. Great start! We were soon into Gannets, Manx Shearwater, more Fulmars, Storm Petrels, Bonxies as well as more Gulls. All the time scanning for Cetaceans. We were joined at around mid day by a playful 30 animal pod of Common Dolphin, bow riding and jumping around the boat. After an invitation from the Captain a few of us made our way right up to the bow rail and watched the Dolphins inches from our feet as they danced and weaved around us.
Afternoon had us watching more Manxies and I was taken aback by the sheer number of birds passing through. Another very close fly past from a Storm Petrel allowed me to appreciate quite how diminutive this Pelagic master is, for those that don't know, its about the size of a House Martin. The Captain then cut the engines quite suddenly while calling for a fin off the Starboard bow, the fin turned out to belong to an Ocean Sunfish or to use its awesome scientific name mola mola. A frankly bizarre looking, deep water, sub tropical fish that comes to UK waters for around 3 months to enjoy the warmer waters and parasite eradication service provided by Gulls. The Sunfish is essential a dinner-plate shape with two enormous stiff fins parallel to one and other on the top and bottom of its body. These fish can grow up to 6ft and 1000kg in weight! They are the heaviest bony fish in the world, although the ones spotted off Cornwall are usually a lot smaller. These individuals, although large for Cornwall, were about 30cm across without their fins.
On the way back to the marina we saw large feeding aggregations of Shearwaters leading the Captain to speculate that there could be a Minke Whale feeding in the area, as the timings were right and Shearwaters and Minke's feed on the same thing. We did find another Sunfish and more Harbour Porpoise but no Whale this time. There were good numbers of Bonxies moving through as well as Gannets, Fulmars and Gulls. Rissos Dolphin had been spotted the day before but were not evident this trip.
I had a truly awesome day out with the Captain and cannot offer enough thanks to AK Wildlife Cruises. If you are ever in Cornwall on holiday or just fancy a day out I implore you to link up with Keith, he is the nicest bloke I think I have ever met and is fiercely passionate about what he does.