Friday, 18 July 2008

In Search of the Manx Shearwater and A Sunset 18/07/2008

Today the wife and boys returned as the boys have now finished for their 6 week break. Nothing major was planned so I decided to leave it till early evening to paddle out into the tide stream on the other side of Ramsey Island and St David's Head to try and film the elusive Manx Shearwater.

The only thing I had overlooked was that to get out there I would have to cross Ramsey Sound with the tide against me at it's strongest, still it would be good exercise and practice.

I paddled out of Porthsele and everything went ok until I reached the point of Penrhyn Dalar. The tide flow runs right close up to the rock so it was a bit of a sprint to get round the point against the tide, but I could use the waves which build up here to aid me.

I carried on staying close to the cliff until I reached St Justinian and then paddled out into the Sound. I made good progress for a while with North Bishop starting to disappear behind Ramsey Island but soon as I got further out the tide flow against me increased, North Bishop began to reappear and soon Carreg Rhoson appeared!

Although I was going backwards, I was also going sidewards towards Ramsey Island, and I knew that near the Island there is a south flowing counter eddy which would start to take me back the other way, but it wasn't coming soon enough, my arms were starting to feel as if they were going to explode, and all this to try and take some photos of some birds and the feathered variety as well.

As last I hit the south flowing tide stream and started moving forward again and before I knew it I was in the sheltered waters of Bay Ogof Hen at the north end of Ramsey Island and had a well deserved break.

Paddling past Trwyn-Sion-Owen and out into the northerly flowing stream towards St David's Head I caught my first glimpses of the Manx Shearwaters heading southward towards their burrows on Skomer and Skokholm where they make up about a third of the world's population.

I now let the tide take me past Gwahan with the numbers ever increasing.

It was an amazing experience with the Shearwater's gliding just above the waves coming from all angles at great speed, sometimes only just missing the front of the kayak.

The only problem was that there was a large swell and also the speed of the birds made photo taking almost impossible, all that effort for pictures that don't really do justice to the spectacle.

With the tide taking me very quickly I decided to start paddling back in towards the mainland, stopping just behind Carreg Gafeilliog to take some photos of the sunset.

Not a very long paddle but quite strenuous with the unforgettable experience of the daily migration of the Manx Shearwater.

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