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Porpoises, sandwich terns and a pink island

Sandwich_tern_on_the_mooringSea_Thrift_on_Inisnabro

The first 'blow' of the season has been spotted by Nick Massett some 6-7 miles south-west of the Dingle peninsula, indicating a very early arrival of some big whales (possibly humpback or fin whale activity), and while we will be keeping a very close eye on further developments on that front, there are also some smaller gems we encounter regularly that are worth our attention.

We have had regular sightings in recent times of the abundant but elusive harbour porpoise, the smallest cetacean in Irish waters. Porpoises are easily overlooked as they surface only briefly in a wheel-like motion, showing their black backs and their triangular dorsal fin. They do not engage with our boat unlike their more playful cousins, the common dolphins, but sometimes reward the observent passenger with a brief show of their somewhat bulbous head. We most frequently encounter them not far from Parkmore Head just outside the entrance to Ventry harbour.

On leaving and approaching our boat's mooring in Ventry harbour keep an eye out for sandwich terns that often sit on the mooring buoy. Sandwich terns are not known to breed here but spend a considerable time in and around Ventry. They are the largest of our terns here and are easily identified by their yellow-tipped black bill.

While we visit the remote island of Inisnabró mainly for its large puffin colony where the birds offer us a great display as they wheel through the air and rest in rafts on  top of the water, at the moment the island itself is a fabulous sight as it is covered thickly in dense clumps of bright pink sea thrift. The 'pink island' is a feast for the eye and also, in a favourable breeze,the sweet scent of the thousands of flowers wafts over towards our boat!

    

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