CATEGORY 1 : BEST ACTION MAXSPLASH BLOCKBUSTER
4th Place Common Dolphin Superpod.
Prolonged low-grade splashiness rather than a mighty kaboom. Although one or two hurl themselves about a bit….it’s usually the youngsters.
3rd Place Diving Gannets.
My first successful clip of a feeding frenzy of Gannets in Torbay. Lured in by a ball of baitfish herded by dolphins. Although conditions are a bit gloomy this is a really tremendous sight, and you can even hear the Gannets cackle with excitement.
They are big birds….with a wingspan approaching six foot. Good performance.
2nd Place Rissos Dolphin Breaching.
A thrilling sight on the most perfect summer’s day a few miles off the toe of Cornwall. Rissos are rare, and fairly beefy…..the size of a small whale so they send up a decent splash.
1st Place Humpback Gulp-feeding
This is about as much of a mighty kaboom as you are going to get around these parts (apart maybe from a full breach), throwing out quite a wave. Lucky I’ve done a bit of surfing.
My excitement centres released such a surge of adrenaline that my pulse rate was almost as fast as the number of views this clip had on the BBC facebook page…over one and a quarter million.
CATEGORY 2: BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE
3rd Place Bawling Seal. I was never quite sure what this seal was so grumpy about.
2nd Place Sedge Warbler. Fantastic. The cheerful, chirpy song is the sound of the summer riverbank which always puts a spring in my step (or whatever the kayaking equivalent is).
1st Place Bottlenose dolphins whistling. You’ll have to listen carefully, and might have to crank the volume up to ten. It’s a thrill just to catch a distant glimpse of Cornwall’s elusive Bottlenose pod, so I never thought I would be able to hear them chatting.
Category 3: BEST MINI DRAMA
This is my favourite category, because it consists of little wildlife dramas that can only really be witnessed from the silence and stealth and unobtrusiveness of a kayak (and putting in a lot of hours).
7th Place: Somersault Cygnet. Being very small and fluffy makes cygnets everyone’s favourite mini-bird, but is not without its hazards.
6th Place: Gull tackling crab. Contrary to popular belief, Herring Gulls don’t spend their entire time stealing chips and burgers (and small dogs) from holiday-makers in St. Ives. At low tide they resort to more traditional cuisine, unfortunately for this crab. Having big pincers and looking fierce doesn’t seem to help because the gull knows exactly how to deal with it…flip it over and jack-hammer it in the soft spot.
5th Place: Grooming Roe Deer. This could just be my favourite clip. A little glimpse into deerish family life as I glide past silently (in the rain). Mother seems to be intent on her licky task but junior has a sort of ‘Get off, Mum’ body language. Like having your hair brushed before you go to school (circa 1965).
4th Place: Peregrine with Pigeon. A bit X-certificate this one, so if you are a sensitive type, look away now. Peregrines are the perfect predator, and when they land with their prey, which they catch on the wing, they are usually dead because the Peregrine has nipped the spinal cord in the victim’s neck with it’s (specifically designed) beak.
Unfortunately for the woodpigeon, this young female Peregrine hasn’t quite mastered the art of the coup de grace, but at least has the courtesy to disappear behind a rock to conclude the proceedings.
3rd Place: Duck Family Living Dangerously. The first journey from nest to water is a perilous one for all newly-hatched ducklings, and is even more hazardous when the tide is out (‘cos it’s further). The local crows also have a family to look after, and a few-hour-old Mallard duckling is exactly meal-sized for a nestling corvid.
But…phew!…not this time.
2nd Place: Dunlin Bump. Extraordinary. About 500 Dunlin lined up on Plymouth breakwater, roosting at high tide. What on earth prompts the bully to have a go at the innocent victim, apparently just minding its own business, and apparently no different to the other 499 Dunlin in the group?
1st Place: Dancing Stoat. This is not drama, this is a full-blown theatrical performance. In fact it is completely over the top. The Stoat gets so carried away it dips it head completely under the water, rushes backwards and forwards lashing its tail about like a lure, and even picks up a leaf in its mouth before it makes an exit stage right.
All to lure the ducks within range of his spiky little fangs. Unsuccessfully, on this occasion.
All the more remarkable to know that this was in salt water (up an estuary).
Will 2020’s Wildlife Theatrics be as Dramatic?
It’s got off to an elegant start with these Avocets (on the Teign).