Bit of a long post this time as I’ve got well loads to report from the past week or so but before I get into all of the work shenanigans, we’ve been on another Friday fun day jolly and it was awesome so that is priority for now.
The sun was shining and the weather was sweet, making us want to move our dancing feet so after working hard all week we decided to go on an ‘essential team building exercise’. We started off our adventures at Glen Maye which was downright delightful. I always forget just how much I love this island and that there is a world outside of Peel until we go exploring. It’s pretty much a mystical fairy land combined with sets from Lord Of The Rings in my opinion and the waterfall at Glen Maye is fairly high up on the list of amazingness. The draping ivy and carpets of moss heightened the fairy feels and what with that and the dappled sunlight dancing on the murky water, I was 100% confident I was about to see a mermaid emerging from the depths.
Once we’d taken our fill of waterfall selfies we carried on walking through the Glen, marvelling at the lichens and fungus like the nerdy little nature nuts we are and chatting our usual nonsense when a very lost and confused bat appeared, flitting and fluttering in rapid circles over our heads. It must of been very disorientated in the daylight and was going crazy with it’s impressive acrobatic skills. NOW, if that doesn’t prove the magical whimsy-ness of this place then I honestly don’t know what will.
Onwards we strolled, with the scenery changing from the Middle Earth vibe to a fern-y Jurassic Park one, until we got to the rocky beach where we settled for lunch. It was very pretty and peaceful with the sun beaming down on the glittering water but with the unusual amount of rotting seaweed and therefore swarming flies the moment was lost a bit, truth be told. I went to explore the rocks and nearly smashed my head open in a slippery tumble and Chris had an encounter with a persistent wasp that I found highly amusing although I’ve a feeling he may have different views. Upon agreement that this beach was against us in every way we headed back to the car, up through the steep Glen, to trundle onto our next destination – THE CHASMS.
So The Chasms are mega. Everyone should go there. I SAW ANOTHER KESTREL. That was cool. It was hovering right up close to us and as one of my favourite birds ever and only the third kestrel I’ve seen on this island I was chuffed. We marvelled at Sugar Loaf with it’s massive bird colonies, I had a wee nap in the brilliant sunshine, Chris was determined to terrify the wits out of me by teetering ever closer to the crumbly edge to take photos and Jen, constantly on the look-out, spotted a pod of Risso’s dolphins far out but clearly viewable amongst the sparkling waves.
Next we had a quick stop off at the Meayll Circle on the aptly named Meayll Hill to walk around the ancient burial ground. I got told off for striding right into the centre because Jen told me I’d upset the fairies. I’ve yet to feel their wrath but I’ll let you know if there are any developments.
Our final location was halfway along the road between Niarbyl and The Sloc to go bilberry picking. There was bloomin’ loads of them, I turned into someone I’ve not met before in a furious competition with myself to pick every single berry, scrabbling through the branches like a mad woman, on the brink of tumbling into the bushes in my haste. Unfortunately I ate every single one I picked so we couldn’t compare our treasures to see who had found the most but I’m pretty sure I won.
Around that jolly ole day we’ve been busy little buffalos with work. We had our stall at the last few events of the summer in one packed weekend. We attended the Royal Agricultural Show in Kirk Patrick on Friday and Saturday the 12th and 13th and then the Friends of the Earth Port Erin Beach Day on the Sunday. Both shows went very well, even if they were fairly exhausting. I was working at the pub all weekend too and was pretty much ready to collapse by Monday but loads of people came over to chat about our work, tell us of their own sightings and paint practically a beach load of pebbles so it was definitely worth it. Me and Sarah did a mini Tough Mann course in order to obtain a pair of mighty trendy fluorescent green Manx Telecom sunglasses which was harder than it looked and I cannot comprehend how people do the real thing willingly. I spent the majority of my free time in the food tent pushing my luck with the cheese and chutney tasters. I think if I had returned one more time I would of been banned from the marquee but cheese is my kryptonite and I will forever be a slave to free food.
On Sunday our team split with Jen taking our stand to the event at Port Erin and the rest of us taking advantage of a rare spell of perfect weather and heading out on a boat survey. We were out for around five hours and along with the usual Harbour porpoises, were treated to a pod of Short-beaked Common dolphins coming over to investigate the boat. For starters, this was the first time I’d seen this species but it was also my first dolphin encounter from the boat so I was beside myself. I was in charge of the pole-cam which involves dangling half overboard and poking a stick with a Go-Pro attached into the sea to try and get some under-water footage. At one point they were surfacing right under my nose which definitely provoked some over excited squealing and choice words of excitement. Sarah’s keen eyes also clocked a Minke Whale but I think it clocked us first and sped away fairly quickly before any of us could get a photo.
The next day was another blinder so off we went again to sail the high seas. Even with the calm water and brilliant sunshine we hadn’t seen anything for hours, bar a couple more porpoises until we were on our way back, just a mile off Peel Hill when Jen spotted Risso’s dolphins. We turned the engine off and began snapping away to try and get some photo ID worthy pictures and before we knew it we were surrounded. There were about 20 of them in various directions, we didn’t know where to point our cameras. They seemed completely unphased by our presence and were displaying like nobody’s business. Head slapping, breaching and tail slapping whilst all the time coming up close to the boat and whizzing off again. It was marvellous, I couldn’t believe how big they were and how unusual they look with their square heads and scars.
Other than the cetaceans, I also saw a massive peculiar jellyfish, my first ever Manx Shearwaters which almost made me fall off the boat in haste to keep them in my binoculars and a very friendly Fulmar who sat on the water right next to us, eyeing us up and probably trying to figure out if we were a fishing boat or not.
A couple weeks ago, me and Jen took my wonderful banner and Jen’s wonderful knowledge to Onchan Library for a children’s talk. It turned out to be very popular and I do believe they had to start turning people away as it was fully booked which is great. Jen talked about the Big Five species, pointing out how to tell them apart with their behaviour and appearance then we had a treasure hunt around the library and we ended the session with sharky whaley crafts which I got WELL into. It was a lovely afternoon and we’d like to say thanks to the library for having us, the brilliant library staff plus all of the children and parents who attended.
We’ve also been out on a few land-based surveys this week, spotting Risso’s dolphins and porpoises and the public have reported various sightings of Short-beaked Common dolphins and even some Minke Whales which is fantastic.
Oh, we also met Ben Fogle as he was filming for an online programme. He talked to Jen about the wildlife you can see around the island and asked me and Sarah what it meant to be a Dolphineer. I was so giddy and star struck I could do nowt but smirk and blush but luckily Sarah saw the state I was in and took it upon herself to ask for a photo. He’s a top geezer.
In amongst all of that we’ve been enjoying the sunshine in what is turning out to be Ibiza round III, my severely bronzed knees are beginning to ever so slightly blend in with the rest of my legs, even if my forever tomato-red face gives the game away. We had Peel Carnival the other weekend and although I witnessed all of it from a bench outside the Creek nursing a severe hangover it seemed pretty cool. We were due to have a stall on the prom but we were concerned about the winds forecast beating up our beloved gazebo and whipping away our leaflets so had a break, which I think was well deserved, even if I do say so myself. I believe the Rio-like dancing girls were the highlight of most people’s day and the pub was packed for most of the afternoon and evening.
The next few weeks will unfortunately be the last for two of our Dolphineers. Sarah and Chris will be leaving at the beginning of September to move on to their future careers but I’m sure we’ll see both of them visiting the island now and again. We have barbecues and parties planned for their farewell so no doubt the aftermath of those will feature in a couple of blogs time.
Until then, enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts, hopefully we’ll have a shed load of cetaceans turning up and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an influx of Basking sharks yet.
Why did the shark cross the Great Barrier Reef?
TO GET TO THE OTHER TIDE.
I’ll almost admit an apology for that one but it really was the best of the lot.