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PELTIC 2021 update 16 - 4 November

3 November

The forecast had suggested there might be a strong northerly wind blowing today – sadly, they got it right, with the wind gusting 30-35 knots for much of the day. This made for difficult surveying conditions, not helped by the broken cloud which meant we were staring at the glare of the sun for much of the morning.

Photo 1: Common Dolphin

Despite the conditions we did well for Common Dolphin, managing nine encounters with about 180 animals – one encounter alone estimated at 110. Conditions weren’t suitable for trying to take photos so here’s one from earlier in the survey, just to give you your daily dose of dolphin (photo 1).

Photo 2: Fulmar

Birds were a bit thin on the ground, again not helped by the conditions. We did manage to log a further 28 Puffin and there was a slight increase in the number of Fulmar (photo 2) around with 11 logged. Otherwise, it was the same four species we’ve been logging for days: Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet and Kittiwake.

Photo 3: flock of Guillemot with a single Razorbill

Sightings dropped off as we headed inshore, though picked up again in a narrow strip along the coast where the wind was pushing birds moving south against the coast. There was a marked increase in the number of Kittiwake and auk flocks, in the case of photo 3 Guillemot with a single Razorbill.

We were treated to a range of weather conditions from sun in the morning, to dark and foreboding rain clouds (photo 4 & 5) then to brighter skies with showers (photo 6) and even some nice crepuscular rays in the late afternoon (photo 7).

Last but one day tomorrow with two short and one long transect north of the Isles of Scilly, forecast still not great though so may be more of the same.

4 November

The weather forecast was still annoyingly accurate with the wind once again blowing 30 knots or more from the north, though easing slightly to 20-25 by the afternoon. Conditions were bright with broken cloud, which for the first transect at least, was behind us.

Photo 8: Puffin

Despite the conditions we managed an incredible – by PELTIC standards – 84 Puffin (illustrated by birds from a few days ago in photo 8). Just as well they were around in good number as there was little else other than the ever-present Kittiwake to record (photo 9).

Photo 9: adult Kittiwake

Cetaceans were hard to come by, though we at least managed a couple of sightings of Common Dolphin so the transect wasn’t dolphin-free.

The second transect headed due south so we had to put up with the sun for the duration, thankfully a brief hour and 45 minutes. Despite the short duration we managed a sighting of Common Dolphin, so another transect saved from being dolphin-free. There were relatively few birds around, with Fulmar being most numerous. In fact, when we broke off for a trawl, there were about 30 around us for a time (photo 10).

The third and longest transect ran back east so we had the sun behind us again, though with the northerly wind still blowing we had to contend with a bit of rolling in the swell. Most abundant bird was again Fulmar (photo 11) with over 80 recorded, up until today the species had really been notable by its absence, with days going by without seeing one. We also notched up another 28 Puffin, so well over 100 seen today – given the previous best total for a PELTIC survey (between 2016-2020) was 48 it’s been a bumper survey for them.

We also managed a couple of sightings of Common Dolphin, again, conditions no good for taking photos so here’s another from earlier in the survey (photo 12).

Photo 12: Common Dolphin

Last day surveying tomorrow with one long transect running from offshore and ending near Land’s End. The forecast is for light winds, fingers crossed that it’s accurate!

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