The weather gods were in a considerate mood when we were planning a bit of a post-Christmas, calorie-burning, fustiness-removing paddle.
Light winds meant a coastal trip was on the cards so Brixham seemed like a good bet. This of course means a quick snoop at the superbly action-packed (in terms of wildlife) waters off Berry Head, so Jake and I cornered the end of the breakwater and made straight for the end of the headland.
There were a lot of Gannets cruising about, including a large extended fishing flock in the heart of Torbay. The last of the incoming tide was flowing north past the headland and the tideline between the offshore current and the static water of the bay formed a focus for a handful of circling Gannets and, I hoped, some cetaceans.
We nudged out towards the birds and sure enough a couple of porpoises surfaced nearby with a puff. These were the first cetaceans Jake had seen in the UK so we hung around hoping for a better view. Although porpoises are not attracted to boats and tend to be a bit haphazard in their movements, there were enough around (approximately ten) to make the chance of one surfacing nearby quite high.
One did indeed surface with a loud puff only a few metres away from Jake’s kayak. Perfect. This porpoise had a distinctive notch at the back of its dorsal fin, and looks like the same one I photographed a few weeks ago.
I think I photographed the same porpoise in the same place on 4 Dec.You might think that this is not that remarkable because porpoises seem to be resident at Berry Head, but they are difficult to spot because they are so small and inconspicuous, and very difficult to photograph, and of all the porpoises around Berry Head (approx 15-20?) I was unlikely to snap the same one twice in two visits.
This is the first cetacean that I have ever re-photographed, as far as I am aware.
After half an hour watching porpoises, and chasing after distant unexplained splashes which appeared to be jumping porpoises although could have been tuna or dolphins (porpoises only jump when they are really fired up and chasing fish, and these splashes seemed a bit ‘big’ for that), we headed back into Torbay.
The gannets were thumping in all over the place and put on a great show as we passed the centre of Torbay. There were a few Loons dotted about as we neared the shore. I don’t know why I find these birds so charismatic as their plumage is not particularly remarkable, but they are big and robust and knowledge of how far they have come to spend the winter here, and how they transform into one of the most beautifully marked of all seabirds in the Spring, no doubt adds to their appeal.
We followed the coast back to Brixham and were spotted by some of the rest of the family (and chums, and pets) who were on the end of the breakwater.
The Torbay lifeboat looked impressive in the winter sun as it sped back to its base, and was appallingly photobombed by a jetski.
Fortunately I had time for an uncluttered pic before it eased off on the throttle.
It was a bit of a surprise to hear Brixham harbour echoing to the bawl of seals , who turned out to be resting on a pontoon on the edge of the marina, all ten of them!
We finished with a tour of the inner harbour.
We calculated the ten miles paddled was the calorie equivalent of about a third of a mince pie. Looks like we’ll just have to go out more often to burn off the rest of the packet (and half a tin of Quality Street). Tough.