Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Stormy is the word!

Since getting back to the island at the beginning of the month, we have been beset by an almost endless barrage of low pressures and storm systems, culminating in 'Storm Frank' yesterday. For the most part, this has produced quite a lot of rather dull days, prevailed by heavy rain and strong winds. However, every now and then the sun makes a shy appearance, and turns the bleak landscape into a beautiful display of colour: the spray of waves catching the late afternoon sun; Choughs gleaming as they bank and glide aerobically prior to landing; the endless tones of blues, greys and whites that make up the colour of each rollings wave.

So for some of the time during the last few weeks, it has been very pleasant to be outside, with plenty of great photographic opportunities, and enough wildlife to keep one entertained. It has been great to see two new Grey Seal pups appear on the beaches around the Narrows over the last two weeks, which have only just managed to escape the very high tides and stormy weather. Equally, watching the moulted seal pups that are now independent has been amusing too: some have adopted certain rock pools around the coast where they will play for hours in the shallows.

In terms of birdlife, passerines have been in short supply during the windy conditions, but waders and gulls around the Narrows have provided plenty of interest. There appear to be two Whimbrels overwintering this year, with overwintering populations of around 25 Turnstones, 10 Purple Sandpipers, 100 Oystercatchers and 14 Redshanks. Every day a small feeding flock of Kittiwakes trails around the island along the various tidal currents, feeding on churned up morsels of fish and invertebrates. Occasionally this flock (numbering around 140) contains a few Little Gulls and the odd Mediterranean Gull, with plenty of Common Gulls and Herring Gulls tagging along now and then.

All in all it has been a great few week's break from uni, although whether the weather will allow us to return to Falmouth to continue the next term is another matter!!

Here is a selection of images taken during my time back on the island:
 Dad and I took the advantage of a rare clear (ish) night to take a star timelapse sequence and also snap a few images down in the bay in Henllwyn. This is a 25 second exposure at ISO 320 (6D of course!)

A Grey Seal bull emerging from a mass of sea foam!

Grey Seal with a bit of bokeh

Moulted pup peeking over some sea foam

Scratchy seal

Kittiwake scaling a breaking wave

Common Gull

Turnstones in the splash zone

Herring Gull

Purple Sandpipers- there don't appear to be as many as usually overwinter here, but it is nice to see them

Chough in-coming!

It was brilliant to spot this Jack Snipe sitting tight whilst walking up through the wetlands a few days ago!!

Panoramic of the island from the south end

It has been very cool to see so many By-the-wind Sailors washing up on the island- such fascinating creatures (check out my advent post on them here)

These Goose Barnacles had chosen a novel piece of floatsom to commandeer! Goose Barnacles are species of Crustacean, and lead to one of the more impressive myths before the knowledge of migration: it was thought that Barnacle Geese originated from these barnacles, spending the winter in this form before emerging as geese in the spring!

I have also been attempting a few timelapse sequences during my time here...