Saturday, 11 September 2010

Cornish pelagic

Early on the morning of the 4th september (01:30 to be precise, well i did say early!), I set off from home to drive to St Ives (via N Petherton to pick up a mate). The roads as can be expected at that time of night were clear & we eventually pulled up to Smeatons pier in St Ives harbour at around 04:15. After a short nap in the car, I boarded the boat (Prime time) which was due to leave at 05:00 & take us out around 7 miles NW. 9 others joined Dave & me & we headed out of the harbour onto the open sea, which thankfully, was fairly calm (although not calm enough for one indivdual).
After about an hour, just as the light was getting to a reasonable level, the skipper, shut down the engine & startied chumming. For those of you that have never heard of this practice, fear not! It is not some sort of sordid practice of folks of the sea, but rather the depositing of a foul brew of fish heads, guts & blood, that had been hanging around for a while (in this case, 2 weeks), into the sea. The stench coming from the barrell reminded me of drains, but at least 10 times worse! Anyway this chum has the effect of drawing in birds from a long way off, & it wasn't long before the first Fulmars turned up. A kittiwake  followed us for most of the morning. The first Storm Petrel arrived around 2 hours after we stopped. More were seen during the trip, with up to 3  in a group. Unfortunately, no one managed to turn a stormie into the star bird of these trips, Wilsons Storm Petrel. Other birds seen included Gannet, Great & Arctic Skua, Herring & Great black-backed Gull, Guillemot, Cormorant & several Terns. Anyone that fancies a few hours with a barrel of chum, a bucket of sick & several other foolhardy souls, go to for more info (trust me its fun, so much so i intend to have another go next year!)
The photos below were the best from a dreary day whist trying to stand up & not fall in the chum barrel. All were taken using a D2x at iso 400 & 800 with a Nikon 70-200mm VR lens fitted with a 1.7x teleconverter.  

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