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Close encounter with Balearic Shearwater from Kayak

12th July 2020

What an awesome day I experienced in my kayak. How close do you want to be? With my kayak, I drifted up to this Balearic Shearwater, that was in a raft of 200 Manx Shearwater two miles north of Bryher out at sea, until I was only meters away from it and it was not concerned one bit of how close I was.

The conditions were spot on for kayaking with not a ripple on the water. At 09.00, I was on Tresco but some three hours later all I had seen of note were 19 Sandwich Tern, including 2 juveniles, 21 Sanderling, 32 Turnstone, 3 Whimbrel and 2 Dunlin on the South Beach. On the Great Pool there were 7 Redshank and 6 Greenshank and a single White Wagtail. However, I was kinda of surprised that I didn’t get a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull as it’s now the time that one should turn up.

Up to 19 Sandwich Tern were on Skirt Island where I took these shots using the kayak

Part of the flock of 21 Sanderling roosting also on Skirt Island and as you can see, they are not concerned of my presence only meters away from them while in my kayak

While on Tresco, I was thinking where to row to next and it was Higgo’s call that made my mind up. He told me that he was goin with Jo Pender out to Bishop lighthouse to see Puffins. I haven’t seen a Puffin this year and in two weeks time, they will be all gone! I made my mind up to kayak out towards the Eastern Isles and swing in close to English Point, St Martins and follow the coast line half a mile out until I get to Men-a-Vier. Some five miles later and it was not until I got closer to the latter site , that I had 6 Puffin. Only one showed well before being flushed by a speed boat. Some 150 Manx Shearwater almost took my head off as they flew west at very, very close range.

My first Puffin of the day were six off Men-a-Vier but this individual was the only one that showed off for me.

A flock of 150 Manx Shearwater moved past me and were almost crashing into the kayak. Most of them were way to close to focus on for a photo!

I scanned out to sea with my bins and picked out a raft of 250 Manx Shearwater a mile north of Bryher and as I was half way across,they all got up and flew off west. Much further out I could see another raft of 200 and when I finally reached them, a quick scan through the flock, produced a Balearic Shearwater! Ideal! This is what I was hoping for and they all stayed put on the water as I drifted towards the Balearic until I was only meters away! I left them alone as I could see another 150 nearby but this time just Manx Shearwater although a single Storm Petrel flew east low across the water. By now I was two mile out at sea off the north end of Bryher. I could see good numbers of Manx Shearwater moving west a mile or so further out but I left them to it and started making my ways towards Scilly Rock. As I slowly headed towards the Rock, I observed over 40 Puffin, large numbers of both Razorbill and Guillemot, up to 10 Fulmar, 15 Gannet, 3 Mediterranean Gull, including 2 juveniles and more rafts ofI Manx Shearwater.

This Balearic Shearwater was hanging out with some 250 Manx Shearwater and showed off with crippling views at eye level

As you can see from the above photo, the Manx Shearwater were only meters away from me while I was comfortable in my kayak The rafts added up to over 700 Manx Shearwater in total

There was only a handful of Fulmar

Spot the Manx Shearwater! Both Razorbill and Guillemot were in very good numbers and like everything else, they showed superbly

Spot the Puffin! From Men-a-Vier to Scilly Rock I had a total of 45 Puffin only to discover that Nigel Bray had an amazing 94 birds in the Man-er-vier area!!

I wasn’t expecting to see 3 Mediterranean Gull, including this juvenile, out at sea with the rafts of Manx Shearwater

Also, lots of Herring Gull out at sea

Just west of Bryher, I got a surprise when the Bootle-nosed Dolphin, that was seen over a week ago in St Mary’s Harbour, appeared from nowhere and surfaced meters away from the kayak. As it was always so close, it made it very difficult to get any pics in focus. As I approached the rocks off Bryher I could hear the eerie calls of the Atlantic Grey Seal. Relaxing in the sun I came across small groups and a few sunk in the water to come and have a look at me. High above, a male Peregrine took flight and headed towards Bryher. I continued my journey towards Samson and took my time returning home towards St Mary’s to complete an amazing fourteen mile all round trip.

This Bottle-nosed Dolphin is the individual from five years ago in March when it spent some time in St Mary’s Harbour.

Alantic Grey Seal resting on the rocks


Author: Kris Webb 10

I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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