THAT Seal Again

After several major offshore paddles recently, to Eddystone, Dodman Point and Tintagel, a downturn in the weather forced The Lone Kayaker to a return to coastal paddling.

Although I find being far out to sea the most exciting environment for paddling, with the possibility of a whale appearing at any second, following the shore is more interesting from a scenery point of view. Also there are more boats and people to look at, if that is your thing. Maybe even 007 himself……

P1130426
The real James Bond?

Or watching some poor devil getting a ticket because he was parked slightly on the grass because the carpark was completely full.

P1150369

Out along the coast there is always something to maintain the attention in the ornithological department. For example, incessantly piping Oystercatchers,

P1130408
Oystercatchers taking a break from piping

stands of reptilian-looking shags resting on the offshore rocks,

P1150321
Shags

and a handful of very confiding Turnstones creeping about amongst the barnacles. Beautiful little birds, but extraordinarily difficult to spot amongst the acres of rocks exposed at low tide.

P1150366
Turnstone

As I was watching the Turnstone a seal popped up beside me with a snort. I was pretty sure it was the same individual that had climbed onto my kayak a couple of weeks ago…a smallish Grey Seal with the look and behaviour of a youngster. It wasted no time in checking me out and then starting to sniff the deck of my kayak, probably looking for a snack. You will see from this video that it once again appears to be excited and playful  and throws its head about a bit while working out what to do.

(p.s ignore the date stamp….havn’t got to grips with GoPro fully.)

 

 

 

In anticipation of its next move I paddled alongside a rock and hung on tight, and sure enough the seal decided to hop on board. Hardcore science types would say that this action is purely motivated by food, and indeed the seal did do a lot of sniffing about and close inspection of my dry bag on the back deck, which contained nothing more stimulating to the appetite than some moderately stale Custard Creams. However watching the seal’s behaviour closely, I am sure that a bit of horsing about was involved.

 

 

 

It finished off with an inverted swimpast.

 

 

It was then joined by a pale-coloured friend and they had a bit of an introductory twirl.seal 22

Other larger and maybe wiser members of the group watched from a distance, and I made sure I didn’t approach too close to frighten them into the water, so took a long loop around the reef out to sea when I moved on.P1150387

Only the friendly seal came along to accompany me, porpoising along beside the kayak and  bumping into the rudder regularly. At one stage a gull flew over about six foot above the seal’s head and the seal playfully snapped at the bird.

It got even more excited when a local tourist boat appeared round the corner and it benefited from a handout in the shape of a mackerel.

P1150337
Fishy snack for seal

As I paddled across the bay the seal eventually disappeared and I reverted to admiring the shore-based wildlife. A juvenile Buzzard on top of the cliff was constantly whining at it’s unseen parents. This is the main soundtrack of the countryside at this time of the year when all other birds have largely fallen silent.

P1150414
Buzzard mewing

I pulled up on a tiny beach for a coffee break and as I did so a Kingfisher flashed past with a whistle, and a flash of orange and brilliant turquoise. This was the first one I have seen on the open coast this summer, presumably a bit of post-breeding dispersal as they nest in holes along river banks. It was a typical fleeting view, summed up quite nicely by this indistinct photo:

P1150418
Kingfisher blurr

And so back to something resembling civilisation, and the buzz of the beach.

P1150424
Busy beach

The last nugget of wildlife before I got back to the slipway was a Little Egret hunting little fish as the tide surged in.

P1150453
Little Egret

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Looe Island

The most perfect late May day imaginable. Zero wind, sunny and temperature in the mid twenties. myself and Becky and friends Krysia and Stefan were keen to do some wildlife watching from kayaks and I hoped Looe island would deliver. Krysia and Stefan didn’t realise just how close up and personal the (very large) wildlife would come……

Seeting off from Millpool slipway gives an excellent opportunity to see the Little Egrets that appear to be nesting in the wood opposite the carpark.

P1100545
Little Egret

 

P1100549
Little Egret

We sped through the middle of Looe on the outgoing tide.

Looe town
Looe

We slid across the super smooth open sea to Looe island…….

P1100356
Looe island

and were soon admiring the seals that were draped about on the Ranneys reef enjoying a bit of sun.P1100362

 

We looped around the island and headed for the beach at Portnadler for lunch. Several other bank holiday revellers had the same idea but we managed to find a private mini beach all to ourselves.

P1100407
en route to lunch
P1100412
Portnadler side beach

It was such a cracking afternoon that we decided to loop back around the island for a second seal experience. The Cormorants in the colony on the island were panting hard, but the heat didn’t seem to moderate the appetite of the nestlings.

P1100450
Panting cormorants
P1100432
Cormorant nestlings eager for lunch

A couple of small waders resting on the reef turned out to be Sanderlings, on their way to nesting grounds way up north. Superb little birds, usually seen rushing in and out with the waves on a sandy beach during the winter.

P1100459
Sanderling

There were also  a handful of Dunlin that were hunkered down amongst the barnacles on the reef, taking a breather.

P1100278
Dunlin

We had an extraordinary prolonged encounter with a bull grey seal. He followed and examined both our kayaks and seemed to be formulating some kind of action plan.

 

 

 

After submerging we assumed he was going to do a bit of fishing, but to our amazement we could see him lying on the bottom amongst the weed beneath us, apparently asleep (as we could see his eyes were closed!)P1030516

P1030535
Snoozing seal

Then came the unexpected moment.

 

 

 

The message was obviously “clear off, you’re on my patch”, so we did. It was easy to understand his frustration. There were a lot of kayaks and paddleboards around today because the sea looked so inviting and he was just a bit tired of all the attention. You might argue that we were too close and causing disturbance, but even when you are some distance away in a kayak seals will come over and seek you out and follow, seemingly just for curiosity’s sake (or maybe just the fun of it).

Back to the car at Millpool creek and finish the day off with a swim.P1100573

It was such a lovely day that everything looked impressive and grand, even the commoner birds such as Greater Black-backed Gulls.

P1100485
Greater Black-backed Gulls