Thursday, 6 July 2017

Thar they blow!

Or, as will appear more appropriate from what follows, here they blow!

Today was catch up for missing on the whale watching yesterday.  Quick dog walk and off back to Forster.  We counted the changes of speed limit as we went  and totalled 13 over 40km - quite a bit of the time it wasn't at all obvious why the limit changed.

The boat left on time (full again, about 100 punters) and rumbled around the Lake dodging sandbars and oyster leases.  Under the bridge and, wearing life jackets as per the rules out to sea.  A few Inshore Bottle-nosed dolphins were seen as we went.

Getting a bit out to sea we came across a massive pod of Common Dolphins.  Possibly 100 of them and very active.
This was the view South as we went further out looking for a Motherand Calf Humpback seen by their spotter.
 Looking North the sunshine on the water was a good reference point.
 We soon caught up with the two target whales.
The rules define how close the boats can get, but if the whales come to investigate or just hang out around the boat then the boat doesn't have to run away.  This pair got fairly close.
 As the beach side towers of Forster came be seen in the background we weren't too far out.
 After a while we moved off North to an area where a lot of blows were visible.  A highlight for me was a Yellow-nosed  Albatross flying by to be Bird of the Day.  Some big splashes were also visible closer inshore but the captain reckoned there were more mammals in the Northern pod.  We concluded there were 5.  Here is a tail.
 The whales swam under the boat many times and came up very close.  Obviously they were not at all fussed by our boat (but the Captain did use his depth sounder to keep an eye on where they were when they dived (typically going down about 20m with the seabed at about 30m)).
 Here is a barrell roll about 15m from the boat.
 Did I say they came close?
 One problem with closeness is that when they blow a camera lens gets sprayed with whale gooze.

 A couple more tail shots!

 Just for something different here is a fin.
 After about 45 minutes with this pod it was time to head back in.  It was a tad draughty as we doing 20 knots, but the sea was flat soit was not at all exciting.

Praise should also be given to the young woman doing the commentary: she passed out a lot of information about the whales while out at sea and generally seemed to be a very good guide.

After getting through the heads there were a few waterbirds around.  The most interesting were these Pied Cormorants (which without the Albatross would having been battling with the Yellow-billed Spoonbills for nomination).
Here is the boat, snapped as I came back for the Forster Bakehouse with a very good (score 7.5) Pepper Steak pie.
 After a brief recovery at home I went to check out the far side of the dam for orchids.  This also gave a chance for a look back at the house.
 I found the orchids, which I will identify as Greenhoods - probably Dipodium sp.
 Anything to do with nature is likely to involve a mystery.  Today the puzzle was to do with these scratches on the trunk of a eucalypt.  My guess is that these are the landing zone of gliders but other suggestions would be welcome.

 My pinky gives a scale for the scratches ona second scarred tree.

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