Friday, 10 July 2009

An Evening Out With The Birds - 10/07/2009

After managing to pitch the tent between the numerous rain showers I paddled out from Martin's Haven in the early evening.

On reaching Wooltack Point the north flowing flood tide through Jack Sound is picking up speed so it is a short ferry glide to the calm water behind Tusker Rock for a breather before the main ferry glide across Jack Sound to Midland Isle.

With the showers becoming more frequent and the mist rising and falling it is quite a lively paddle over to Midland Isle and then across Little Sound to The Neck on the east side of Skomer Island.

It is here where I start to see Puffins in greater numbers along with the occasional Cormorant.

The further west I paddle the calmer the water becomes as it is sheltered from the increasing southerly wind, with large groups of Puffins continuously flying in from out at sea and crashing very ungracefully to form large rafts, where I suppose they wait before returning to their burrows on Skomer.
Skomer is one of the largest breeding colonies for Puffins with an estimated 6000 breeding pairs on the island and is one of the few places in Britain where their numbers are thriving.

It will be a very quiet place in a couple of weeks when they disappear out into the Atlantic to spend the Winter, I could think of a few much more hospitable places myself!

After taking some time just watching the amazing little birds I paddle northwards out into St Brides Bay in search of the elusive Manx Shearwater.

I have paddled amongst thousands of them between St David's Head and North Bishop as they returned to Skomer from their day out at sea but have never managed to get decent photos of them as they glide effortlessly just above the sea. Skomer has the largest population in the world with an estimated 120,000 pairs nesting in burrows on the island.

Although very agile whilst at flight, when on land they are very cumbersome only returning to their burrows after dark to avoid attack by the numerous predatory gulls.

As a result they raft in huge numbers off Skomer waiting for the protection of the darkness, but today with the wind picking up and the weather deteriorating I decided to head back to Skomer after only seeing a few small rafts of a couple of hundred birds.

Still at least I managed a few photos. It was then a bit of a slog back to Skomer paddling into the ever increasing southerly headwind, but I was again greeted by the ever present huge numbers of puffins.

After watching the Puffins for a while it was another ferry glide across Little Sound and Jack Sound and back to the shelter of the tent.

With the forecast not looking too good at least I had managed to see some Manx Shearwaters whatever else happens!

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