Saturday, September 20, 2014

12th September

The darker morning hours meant that the later it was on the calendar, the more sleep we would all get. For instance, most boat survey departure times were now beyond 6 and 7am compared to the 5am and earlier routine earlier interns had to follow. I don't think it really meant a difference, but there did seem to be some psychological appreciation by the other interns, who seemed much more enthusiastic at getting an extra hour of sleep. It does seem true that getting up at 5am sounds much earlier than getting up at 6am.

12th September was the Aberystwyth survey. The primary benefit was that the boat here, Ma Chipe, was much faster, reaching 14+ knots, in contrast to the 5-6 knots capability of the Dunbar. This meant that it was easier to reach the outer transect survey areas. The relevant SAC areas offshore, both the Cardigan Bay and the Pen Llŷn a'r Sarnau, were split by the Sea Watch Foundation into inner and outer transect regions. The outer transect surveys were just extended versions of the inner, encompassing both the inner and outer areas.

Inner and outer transect maps, courtesy of Sea Watch Foundation.

On board Ma Chipe, there was a bit of misinformation on what area we were surveying however. Whatever the case, we ended up just randomly surveying the Pen Llŷn SAC instead, even though it wasn't strictly part of our main research focus. I don't have a map showing the route we took that day, but I could probably borrow the GPS coordinates for the day if I needed too. There were pessimistic rumours spreading that there were little or no dolphins around this area, supported by the facts that there were far fewer fish than usual. However, of all the recent surveys, I don't think we've ever recorded so many dolphins before.

I'm just going to post head shots because everyone likes those.

An odd thing to note were these random swarms of flies far out to sea. They were mixed swarms of a whole variety of flies, midges, gnats, crane flies and other oddities. We all ended up covered in them whenever we stopped in those areas.

But a small selection of flies present, including the late-flying cranefly Tipula confusa on the far right minus one leg.
Other than that, and the assumption that the top left is some relative of a St Mark's fly, I have no clue what any of these
A shallow reef halted our progress on one of the transects, so we had to take a different route. The clouds started pouring in but some unique sky on offer.

The reef is visible as the calm section between two slightly rougher tides.

Same copyright as other images, just forgot to add watermark.

 A dunlin flying out to sea towards Ireland seemed to serve as an omen to the coming fall migration in the area, and common scoter was relatively common. The weather is starting to drop and it's getting colder by the day. Better get that winter coat out...

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