Saturday, 11 July 2009

Puffinitis!!!! 11/07/2009

After surviving a very windy and wet night, the wind had eased and there were spells of sunshine as I wheeled the kayak back to Martin's Haven, passing numerous swallows on the way.

With the inshore waters forecast predicting S or SW 5-7, gale 8 later, I decided to paddle back across to Skomer and see how things went, if it all went pear shaped at least the wind would blow me back!
There was a bit more swell than last night but the north flowing flood tide was starting to ease off as I crossed Jack Sound.

Paddling along the east side of Midland Isle I notice a cave which I haven't spotted before, and on closer inspection it goes right through, but with today's swell best leave that one to check out on a more calmer day.
My initial plan was to paddle south through Little Sound and round into South Haven, but after crossing Little Sound to the Neck, the wind was already pretty strong and with the tide turning and flowing southerly I decided on the side of caution and I paddled along the north of the island, sheltered from the southerly wind.

Just around the first small headland of the Neck the water becomes calm again, but looking through the cave that runs right through the narrowest point of the Neck there is a large swell coming through from the south of the island.
Tucked away near the cliffs is a seal having 40 winks also taking advantage of the shelter.

As I paddle westward the number of birds increase, the vast majority were Puffins but also Guillemots and juvenile Cormorants perching on the rocks.
Also I notice numerous Gulls also on the rocks and then it becomes obvious what they are up to as I watch them mug a helpless Puffin for his hoard of sandeels, oh to have a gun..... I suppose it is only nature. As if the Puffins haven't got enough to contend with, they now have to run the gauntlet of the waiting Gulls to get back and feed their chicks.

I paddle as far as the Garland Stone at the Northern tip of Skomer and decide not to carry on any further. Though conditions weren't too bad at the moment I had that gut feeling that something wasn't right, and with the wind ever increasing, decide to stay in the shelter of the North Cliffs.

I still have a little play in the overfalls that are building between the Garland Stone and the island. As I paddle back eastward my decision was right, within half an hour the wind increases and the rain and mist comes down.

I stop in the shelter of North Haven to eat my sandwiches along with 100s of Puffins and some fluffy gull chicks, shame they grow up into such thugs!

Apologies for all the photos but the Puffinitis is really kicking in and in a few weeks they will be gone until next Spring.

Taking a slow paddle back along the north coast of Skomer, stopping on numerous occasions to watch the Puffins, I am soon crossing a sedate Jack Sound which is just starting to build at it's Southern end.

I explore the numerous arches, caves and steep pebbled beaches that are popular seal pupping beaches on the mainland coast of Jack Sound as the rain comes down heavier.

Carrying on paddling eastward past Martin's Haven, I stay in the shelter of the north facing cliffs and paddle in and out of the numerous coves and inlets up to Musselwick Sands.

It is then a paddle back to a deserted Martin's Haven through the now very heavy rain. I am surprised at the strength of the wind as I walk back up the steep road to the car park, those clfifs certainly gave me plenty of protection from it.

Time to batten down the hatches and hold onto the tent with the prospect of a force 8 approaching!

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