Monday, September 21, 2009

Bay of Biscay



As I write this, I am floating. Not because I am ecstatically happy - though I did have a very good long weekend - but because my body thinks it is still on a boat.

I've finally been on the Pride of Bilbao from Portsmouth to... you guessed it, Bilbao. We didn't go for the bingo, the boozing or the cabaret, but to look for whales, dolphins and seabirds. Our gang spent most of its time on the helicopter deck near the top of the boat and we weren't disappointed.

Even though it was quite a quiet trip by recent standards (no Orcas!) we saw Minke, Pilot and Sperm Whales, Harbour Porpoises, Common, Striped and Bottle-nosed Dolphins. Seabird-wise, Sabine's Gulls, Kittiwakes, Great and Cory's Shearwaters, Storm-petrels, Great and Arctic Skuas battled the waves and wind to fly past.

I didn't get any good photos, but you can see some from a recent crossing on Weedon's World of Nature.

Migration never ceases to amaze me. As we headed out into the Bay of Biscay, we were joined by a procession of Robins, a Redstart, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, White and Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipits, Swallows and a Song Thrush. I hope they managed to find somewhere on the ship to roost overnight and left when we arrived in Spain on Saturday morning...

As we rounded the Brittany coast on the way home, what I am sure was a Jack Snipe shot past the obs lounge at high speed before disappearing from view. Apparently it'd be a first for the boat, but our views were just too brief to clinch identification.

Apart from still having my sea legs, and missing the Guggenheim museum on a quick visit to Bilbao itself, the only downer is that my feet really, really hurt by the end of the trip. Next time I'm taking something to sit on...