Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Quay part 1

Late last August I spent a day in the lovely seaside town of New Quay in West Wales with the aim of photographing some of Cardigan Bay's resident Bottlenosed Dolphins.
The sun was cracking the flags when we pulled into the carpark early in the morning; conditions were perfect for a spot of land-based dolphin watching. But, initially, other wildlife was to distract me from photographing my target species.
While obtaining my parking ticket I noticed a small flock of House Martins flocking around the window of a house adjacent to the car park. Not one to resist a photo opportunity, I grabbed my DSLR off the car's back seat and positioned myself below the window. Surprisingly, there was no sign of any House Martin nests on the building, so I thought the birds must have been exploiting a feeding opportunity. But there was no evidence of any potential prey such as insects around the window. The birds would swoop up to the window, hover, then swoop back towards the sea. I have no idea what they were doing and the sight of distant dolphin fins breaking the water of the bay precluded me from staying for more than a few minutes. But I did manage a few record shots of the martins in flight.

 But there were insects near the car park; butterflies in fact. A number of species were making the most of the sunshine, including Small Tortoiseshell and a Painted Lady. The latter was the only butterfly of that species that I saw last year. It was quite a tatty individual, but they are long-distance migrants and are always a joy to observe, so I had no qualms about photographing this battered insect.

We made our way through the throngs of summer holiday makers down to the harbour, where we found a suitable spot on the harbour wall and settled down for a day's land-based dolphin watching in the sun.
While the resident Bottlenosed Dolphins were our main quarry, the presence of numerous species of seabirds were an added distraction. The Herring Gulls were easily tempted close by our picnic. A juvenile Herring Gull provided me with one of my favourite flight shots of the year.

 But gulls were not the only seabirds to be seen. Gannets could be seen diving in the distance; clearly the fish that support the dolphins in this area are also dinner for a variety of birds. The mini-albatross that is the Fulmar swept past on stiff wings and moulting Sandwich Terns were also seen.

A pair of juvenile Shags drifted past on the current and were eminently photographable.

And the seawall also provided rich pickings for a Rock Pipit, but the midday sun was a bit harsh for decent photography.

A great wildlife day was unfolding and then the dolphins appeared close inshore. But those photos will appear in New Quay part 2!

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