Well Hello Dolphin Watchers,
Where to start todays blog, I guess a week ago? So last Friday I'm sat in the car waiting patiently for my dad to collect his fishing bait (don't worry he's very ethical when it comes to fishing 1) It's all catch and release and 2) He's not very good at it!) when the phone rings...Hmmm, a Montpellier number, this has gotta be a scam, I thinks to myself, but as I'm bored I think I'll answer that and it's just as well I did, this is where it always plays to be polite. I was greeted by the rather friendly Kyle from the research department of the BBC. I forget exactly just how the conversation went but it was something along the lines of, "Sam we have a TOP SECRET bit of kit we need to test out in the water for some TOP SECRET filming we need to do in a TOP SECRET location for a TOP SECRET program and I'm told you have just the team to help us out, we'd like to find some #dolphins". Huzzah, YES I think to myself because YES, YES I DO. We agree to have a chat over the weekend once I've made some phone calls. Big thanks to Robert Hughes from Devon Sea Safari for the heads up on this one.
Well as it happens, within a couple of hours and in my head at least, we had a plan of attack. We'd head to Weymouth and Join Luke on his boat SNAPPER, it's massive, has huge deck space so social distancing isn't a problem, on board toilet (as all our boats do) and importantly for me, the ability for making masses of boiling hot tea, and important, it turns out, to the BBC, the very very good and practically world famous Bennet's Fish and Chip shop... who, just so you know, have just started doing again battered pigs in blankets! We'd be joined in the morning by top DWUK guide and MARINElife researcher Tom Brereton and boy is he happy he did.
Now as you can imagine, many many emails and phone calls later, myself, Tom and Luke were stood on the boat eagerly awaiting the team and and the TOP SECRET equipment, now, needless to say, this wasn't to be the only excitement of the day.... Tom, who I should add is camera ready almost all of the time, is extra keen this morning. There's been reports of a Little Auk that quite conveniently for us, has turned up in, yes, that's right... #WeymouthHarbour.
Those in the know, will know, exactly how exciting this is. For those that don't, well I'm gonna tell you... So Little Auks or Dovekie as it's also known, is a small auk, roughly half the size of a puffin. It's usually lives in large colonies and when I say large I mean LARGE! In fact it's one of the most abundant species of seabirds in the world with a current population estimated to be over 37 million breeding pairs. Not that remarkable a find I hear you cry? We'll it is when this you think this endemic species breeds on islands of the high Arctic, being found on islands in the Bering Sea, from east Baffin Island (Canada), through Greenland (to Denmark), Iceland to Spitsbergen, Bear Island and the Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway), Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, Russia... As you can see nowhere near #Weymouth or indeed the U.K, making this tiny sea bird possibly one of the rarest of any birds here in the U.K at the moment.
As if by magic and at the exact time Tom is telling us this information, I spot it, plain as day and in broad sight for anyone to see. Tom's off, camera in hand and snapping away. After getting some beautiful photo's he's on twitter and within an hour there's quite a mass of Twitchers gathered, some wearing camouflage gear... this always surprises me when people are wearing it in town? Don't you stand out more? Anyway this dear little bird delighted everyone from a far, and, at times, also really quite close to the boat.
Then it happened, right in the middle of all this, the BBC turned up... to be honest I was that absorbed with the Little Auk I'd half forgotten about them. Not for long though as box, after box, after box, of TOP SECRET stuff was brought onto the boat and assembled. Now this I can tell you was both a very long and very technical process. 6 people working for roughly 6 hours to build and construct, my word what a piece of kit it is. That, in all honesty is about as much detail as I can go into on it... That, and that I really cant wait to see what they do with it, EPIC.
However after this beast of a piece of kit was put together we still had one thing left to do, FIND DOLPHINS, and find them we did! Barely 20 minuets after completing some preliminary tests we were greeted by a stunning pair of large but slightly elusive Bottlenose Dolphins.. It's times like this that reminds me that wildlife is wild and it does what it wants regardless of how much you want to see it. But we had done what we came for, and, as the light was fading, it wasn't long before we were heading back in. Myself and Tom managed to clock up another two species of Auk, with Guillemot and Razorbill both being added to the list making an impressive red letter day, three species of Auk in a day really is quite a rare feat.
Just like that we were done, "The Beast" was carefully and efficiently packed away, we said our goodbyes and I was back on the train thinking of the amazing day we had just had... who'd of thought the wildlife would outshine working with the BBC, Of course when you think about it, it's obvious that it would... After all that's why they want to film it to start with!!
We have a busy weekend ahead with trips, so in the meantime I hope you've enjoyed the read,