I didn’t need much persuasion to nip across to Torbay for an open sea paddle, given the brief lull in the wind and the desperate need to offset my colossal festive calorie footprint. There is a danger I might end up with the same BMI as the local seals (no disrespect to them intended).
It was gloomy and drizzly but my spirits were lifted by a small group off Dolphins only just off the end of the breakwater. They passed by close with a sense of urgency. It was great to see a calf tucked in close beside its mum.
Another small pod sped past to join up with a larger group of about twenty.
This larger pod were milling about in one area and attracting quite a large flock of Gannets that were circling expectantly overhead. The dolphins then coordinated into a circle , corralling a baitball of fish in the middle. The baitball can be clearly seen in this video.
The Gannets wasted no time in joining in with the feast, with the baitball pinned against the surface. I am particularly pleased with these shots because it is the first time I have succeeded in getting a reasonable film of dolphins with a half-decent Gannet feeding frenzy. I have seen plenty from afar, but by the time I roll up the action has long passed.
I was very surprised to glimpse a skua causing a bit of trouble amongst a group of gulls some distance away. It is very unusual to see this type of seabird at this time of year. It is an Arctic/Pomarine type…probably a Pomarine because Arctics winter a lot further south in the Atlantic.
The dolphins cruised about finishing up their meal.
And I headed out past Berry Head looking for more exciting sea creatures. The surface was nice and flat (for a change).
I found three more small pods of dolphins. One group, a couple of miles off Berry Head, were exceptionally inquisitive and accompanied me for the best part of half an hour as I cruised along. Superb.
My underwater photo effort was disappointing because, although the dolphins came very close, the water was cloudier than it looked from above the surface (although not surprising after all the storms and rain). You can hear lots of communication clicks, however.
Add to all this four Porpoises, which have a characteristic ‘puff’ which is much louder than a dolphin, and an exceptional number of Great Northern Divers (including a preening group of eight) completed a day which was rather beyond my expectations.