Report on whale-watch Ireland 2002, Sun. 18th August

28th Aug 2002 Bray Head, Co. Wicklow (Nick Channon)

What a complete contrast to Howth last year. A select group of about 60 people joined us during the 3 hr watch, several of whom were local IWDG and BWI members who had enjoyed whale encounters on either of the IWDG whale watching courses run by Padraig Whooley, or BWI “Ecology” courses on Cape Clear, run by Faith Wilson.

Conditions were perfect with a calm sea, very light breeze and overcast grey light bringing great visibility. Harbour porpoises (4 adults & small calf) performed their routine at distances ranging from 100-150m, close enough for everyone to see but not as close as we've come to expect from Bray Hd. The day was generally well received by young and old alike. Despite recent sightings of Grey seals in the area, they stayed away on the day, but a cameo appearance by a peregrine made up for their absence. Fulmars, black guillimots and kittiwakes were also seen.

Ramore Head, Co. Antrim (Jim Allen)

We had a great day with lots of folk (mostly families). Approx. 200+ throughout the watch. Excellent conditions for viewing. Sighted 8-10 porpoises west of Ramore Hd and had 2 confirmed sightings (one by boat other by Bird man from Portstewart Hd) of at least 2 unidentified dolphins and one possible Orca (dorsal fin only). The dolphins and alleged Orca were spotted approx 2km off Portstewart Hd travelling NW towards Donegal by John Clarke and Brendan Cormican

It works well to run it from Portrush Countryside centre with the co-operation of EHS and the great resource they have there. I gave an illustrated talk (with lots of bones on display) to a packed audience. Gave away lots of free Fungi posters and selective Membership forms.

Old Head Kinsale, Co. Cork (Padraig Whooley)

We met at the golf course gates, before driving in convoy to the lower car park, from where we walked out to the lighthouse, where we had the large IWDG banner erected. At this point I welcomed everyone and gave a brief 15 min. introduction on what the day was about, what IWDG was about and how to whale watch. My talk was interrupted by someone looking over the lighthouse wall, who shouted “dolphins”, which by necessity shortened my talk and we started the 3 hr watch.

The dolphins as I suspected were Hbr porpoises and they appeared at the cliff "on cue" several times throughout the watch, which kept the group of 130-150 people interested right up to 5.00pm. We also had Grey Seals and plenty of bird activity, so everyone was well pleased. Local ecologist and environmental consultant to the Old Head, Tom O Byrne helped out with discussing the flora and fauna of the Old Head and Peter Wolstenholme discussed the seabird activity.

Despite seeing minke whales and common dolphins 2 days before Whale watch day and the day after, unfortunately neither were seen on the big day, which is a little disappointing. But there you have it. All in all it was a wonderful day, which interestingly drew many people who came to the 1st whale watch day last year, which I think says something about just how much people enjoy sitting out on headlands watching wildlife.

Hook Head, Co. Wexford. (Faith Wilson).

Arrived at Hook Hd. in cracking sunshine in convoy with Chris Wilson, Wexford Wildfowl Reserve warden, who has been speaking about the event on South East Radio for the past two weeks, with the listing going out on the community diary daily. Cars everywhere you looked. Dropped into the interpretive centre to introduce ourselves and remind them it was happening and then settled down for a watch. Within ten minutes we had a porpoise 200m off the rocks porpoising through the waves.

By kick off time we had been joined by a small crowd. At 2.00pm we wandered over to the lighthouse and gathered up more people to join the crowds. An initial

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