PORTSMOUTH to BILBAO (BAY OF BISCAY)
NORTH ATLANTIC (N)
00o00´S/00o00´W ha topography msl
Birding Site Guide
Introduction by BSG. This pelagic has long been a main stay of British birders, with Little Shearwater being the main target, but this is by no means guaranteed, I have managed to miss it twice! But the trips brought other lifers (Melodious Warbler) and other great birds. This account is repeated in Spanish and French sections.
I (RN) made a 4 day trip to the Bay of Biscay last weekend organised by Natuurpunt, our local nature organisation (Belgium). Here is a short report.
Day 1 was mostly spent in the car. First we drove from Mechelen to Calais and then from Dover to Portsmouth. From the boat we saw some Fulmars and Great Skuas.
In England we had time to visit the Farlington Marshes, a tidal area near Portsmouth. There we saw a Peregrine, Little Egrets, Redshanks, Dunlins.
We left Portsmouth at 22:00. It was already dark so nothing more to see.
Day 2 was bad: much wind (7 Bft) and a lot of rain. The upper deck of the boat was closed for visitors because of the storm. But we started watching at 6:30 and stayed out until 20:30. We saw a few shearwaters: Great, Cory's, Balearic, Manx and Sooty and also British Storm-Petrels, N. Fulmars, adult Sabine Gulls and a few Great Skuas.
Sea mammals included some groups of Common Dolphin swimming along with the boat and 2 far Fin Whales.
On the 3rd day we arrived very early in Bilbao. Had breakfast there and then we climbed the surrounding hills where we saw Booted Eagles, Giffron Vultures, Cetti's Warbler, and also a praying mantis and many different butterflies.
When we left Bilbao, we saw an Osprey and a Shag, the sun was shining and the sea was calm and conditions were ideal to see many sea mammals. They didn't keep us waiting for long, with first a Fin Whale and then a Sperm Whale very close followed with good views of Cuvier’s Beaked-Whales, Long-finned Pilot-Whales and Risso's Dolphins with young, and birds included large groups of Great Shearwaters, a few Little Shearwaters and a Grey Phalarope.
Really spectacular was seeing a breaching Fin Whale and jumping Striped Dolphins. Flying Fish were a strange sight!
Day 4 started with fog, less then 100m sight. We should have stayed in bed... But, we saw the sun little later and that brought us more storm-petrels, Great Skuas, N. Gannets, a Puffin and a Turnstone that tried to land on the deck.
The only sea mammals that day were a few groups of Harbour Porpoises. Back in Portsmouth at 18:30 and back home at 2:30.
So, a great trip with 2 lifers: Great and Little Shearwater, both seen extremely well! Risso's Dolphin was also new.
A total of -- species of mammals.
There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles.
Author: Regis Nossent