White-beaked Dolphin

Quick start :-) NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 18/07/18

by on Jul.19, 2018, under North Sea, White-beaked Dolphin

There are days when we search for a long time before finding the wildlife that we’re searching for, there are days when despite our best efforts it eludes us, and then there was last night…

Conditions were looking good with cloud cover and gentle swell so exactly what we’d hope for when we’re searching for dolphins.  We’re doing cetacean surveys on all of our pelagic trips this year and Caroline and Genine had only just started recording the environmental conditions, as we settled on to a steady course, when Tim spotted dolphins ahead of the boat 🙂  This first group of 5 White-beaked Dolphins buzzed the boat a couple of times but were clearly on a mission and quickly departed to the south.  We resumed our original course and passed by Kittiwakes, Gannets and Guillemots before eventually turning back south as the Sun sank lower in the sky towards a slight break in the cloud.  The swell was building, and the gloom of dusk was taking hold when our second group of White-beaked Dolphins for the evening appeared, and these ones were in a much more playful mood 🙂

All of our 4hr evening sailings apart from August 8th are full and our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic on August 14th has sold out too.  We’ve got a few spaces on our 10hr sailings on August 29th, September 15th and September 22nd so give us a call on 01670 827465 to book your place.  We only have limited availability on our sailings so booking early is always the best option to make sure you get a place!

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Here come the White-beaks :-) NEWT’s North Sea pelagic 11/07/18

by on Jul.13, 2018, under North Sea, White-beaked Dolphin

Wednesday was our 5th evening pelagic this year and after Bottlenose Dolphins putting in a good shift on our 2nd sailing, followed by a coupe of stunning sunsets last week, the question on everyone’s lips was “Will England make it to the World Cup final?”…

A few scattered whitecaps and a bit of swell, combined with a lot of glare, make observing tricky and we scanned every flock of gulls and Gannets as we headed north.  Fulmars and Manx Shearwaters passed by on stiff wings, low over the sea and a flock of Common Scoter went north ahead of us.  As we turned back south, having the sun behind us helped, as did the gradual decrease in the sea state and swell.  Scanning along a tide line towards a distant flock of diving Gannets I almost dropped my binoculars as a White-beaked Dolphin started breaching repeatedly away to the east of us.  As everyone else started looking in the same direction, the dolphin unobligingly failed to breach again…but the distinctive dorsal fins and slow diving behaviour of five White-beaked Dolphins more than made up for that 🙂

We’re steadily filling all of our sailings for this year, but we’ve still got as few spaces on our 4hr evening sailings on July 18th and August 1st/8th as well as our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic sailings on September 15th, 19th and 22nd.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 or visit our pelagic page for more information or to book.

White-beaked Dolphins [Lagenorhynchus albirostris] were the highlight of our 4hr North Sea pelagic sailing on 11/07/18

White-beaked Dolphins [Lagenorhynchus albirostris] were the highlight of our 4hr North Sea pelagic sailing on 11/07/18

White-beaked Dolphins [Lagenorhynchus albirostris] were the highlight of our 4hr North Sea pelagic sailing on 11/07/18

White-beaked Dolphins [Lagenorhynchus albirostris] were the highlight of our 4hr North Sea pelagic sailing on 11/07/18

White-beaked Dolphins [Lagenorhynchus albirostris] were the highlight of our 4hr North Sea pelagic sailing on 11/07/18

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Whales and Dolphins; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 31/08/13

by on Sep.03, 2013, under Birdwatching, Grey Seal, MInke Whale, North Sea, Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

Our annual Whale and Dolphin Cruise on Glad Tidings V is one of the highlights of our North Sea Pelagic programme.  With over 40 people booked on to this year’s sailing, we were going to need to be organised and efficient getting everyone on to the boat – luckily I’m married to Sarah, so organisation and efficiency just seem to happen to me 🙂

Saturday was also the first day of our Whales, Waders and Wildfowl holiday, so I collected Bill from The Swan and we drove north, pausing in Amble to collect Ruth as we passed through.  Warm, sunny, windy and with plenty of whitecaps offshore were conditions that could make finding cetaceans tricky.  As we sailed south we came across a raft of Gannets, Sooty and Manx Shearwaters and plenty of Grey Seals ‘bottling’ amongst them.  There wasn’t any sort of feeding activity of note though, but eventually we managed brief views of a small group of Harbour Porpoise nearby.  Continuing on our way, there was a sighting of Minke Whale from the front of the boat…just as I watched a White-beaked Dolphin breaching away to the east 🙂  Eventually we had seven or eight dolphins around the boat, allowing everyone on board the opportunity to enjoy close views of our favourite cetacean.  As we made our way slowly back towards Seahouses, two more Minke Whales appeared and we’d struck gold, silver and bronze in one trip 🙂

Northern Gannet,Morus bassanus,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,whale watching, dolphin watching,whale watching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland

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White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,whale watching, dolphin watching,whale watching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland

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Deep water; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 14/08/2013

by on Aug.27, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

Probably my favourite pelagic of all of the North Sea pelagic trips that we run (although I enjoy all of them immensely!) is our 10hr Farne Deeps – Northumberland’s ‘Ultimate Pelagic’.  The forecast looked about as promising as it gets and I arrived at Royal Quays in good time, to discover that most of our participants were already there 🙂  This was just a day before I would be heading south to the British Birdwatching Fair and five of our participants would also be visiting Rutland over the coming weekend.

As we sailed north east we soon found our first cetaceans of the day, a small pod of Harbour Porpoise.  10 minutes later our progress northeast was slowed as we enjoyed prolonged views of a Minke Whale.  Continuing towards the Farne Deeps, a deep-water offshore area that I’ve been interested in since the late 1990’s and the North East Cetacean Project has been surveying since 2009, we encountered our first White-beaked Dolphins of the trip.  In an interesting rolling swell seabirds were passing by too; Fulmars, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, Great and Arctic Skuas and the occasional Puffin all attracted interest.  Small groups of White-beaked Dolphins were found in locations where we expected them before we headed further offshore to the area that we’ve shown to hold large aggregations of dolphins in the mid-late summer.  Almost exactly where we would expect them to be we found several dolphins breaching.  Others began bow-riding and soon there were groups of White-beaked Dolphins in every direction; tail-slapping, breaching, spy-hopping and just generally performing.  Eventually as many as 60 of these stunningly beautiful dolphins were in view and all of the photographers on board were busy filling their memory cards.  16 years of organising North Sea pelagic trips and they just get better every year 🙂

Minke Whale,Balaenoptera acutorostrata,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,whalewatching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland,www.northernexperiencepelagics.co.uk

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“That’s a big dorsal fin…”; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 10/08/2013

by on Aug.21, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin, Wildlife

Sometimes things go right, sometimes things go wrong, and sometimes things go just right and completely wrong all at the same time…

We set sail from Beadnell with a full boat, and stopped just outside the harbour to ask a local yachtsman if he’d seen any whales or dolphins during the day.  “Yes, White-beaked Dolphins, about 6 of them, 3 miles E of Boulmer…6 hours ago”.  Even though his sighting was before lunchtime, it was still encouraging news, particularly as our plan was to head south as far as Boulmer anyway.

Gannets, Fulmars, Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins were soon spotted and then, as we headed from Craster towards Boulmer, Andy spotted a dark shape away to the east.  We stopped and waited, then it surfaced again.  Guessing where it would surface next I lifted my binoculars and then almost dropped them as the centrally-placed, upright, dorsal fin of an Orca passed across my field of view!  I’m notoriously sceptical of claims of Orca in the north east but, with over 1000h offshore, I always thought I’d bump into one eventually 🙂 I needed a longer lens on my camera so I reached into my camera bag, took out a 300mm f2.8, removed the 70-200 from the camera…and then broke the camera lens mount as I tried to attach the longer lens 🙁  As the distant dark shape appeared again, still heading slowly north, we suddenly had White-beaked Dolphins close by too.  Eventually we had ~20 of them close to the boat, and I was stuck with one broken camera and a spare camera body that had decided that it wasn’t going to communicate properly with the lens.  I managed to get a few record shots of the dolphins, and planned to set my alarm for early on Sunday morning so I could try to sort out camera issues before heading offshore on a North East Cetacean Project survey.

White-beaked Dolphin,Northumberland,North Sea,North Sea Pelagics,Dolphin watching North Sea,Dolphin watching Northumberland,Whale watching North Sea,Whale watching Northumberland

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The sun goes down; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 26/07/2013

by on Aug.06, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, White-beaked Dolphin

Our final Royal Quays Friday evening North Sea pelagic for this year was remarkable in that it was Sarah’s second evening pelagic in two weeks.  Now, of the two owners of NEWT one of us loves small boats – and has now racked up over 1000hrs at sea – and the other doesn’t 😉  Not going out on our evening pelagics had a consequence for her life list though…we have a 30″x20″ canvas of a leaping White-beaked Dolphin

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on our office wall and Sarah has been closely involved with our work for the North East Cetacean Project, but she’d never seen a WBD in real life!

A late cancellation, and a stunning weather forecast, led to me making an ‘executive decision’ to keep the place available so that Sarah could join us on the trip, and we could celebrate 10 years of marriage in a slightly unorthodox way 🙂

Our first group of four White-beaked Dolphins came alongside the boat and stayed with us for 1/4 mile before peeling off and heading back to where we’d first encountered them.  When they made that decision we continued heading north and found another group, this time of three White-beaked Dolphins feeding.  One of the dolphins decided to put on a display, before they all melted away into the inky depths and we sailed home against the backdrop of another stunning sunset.

We’ve still got spaces on our 4hr Whale and Dolphin cruise from Seahouses on August 31st, and there are a limited number of spaces on our 8hr sailings from Royal Quays on 7th and 21st September so give us a call today 01670 827465 for more details or to book your place 🙂

White-beaked Dolphin,Northumberland,North Sea,North Sea pelagics,dolphin watching Northumberland,whale watching Northumberland

Sunset,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,dolphin watching Northumberland,whale watching Northumberland

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Supporting cast; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 19/07/2013

by on Aug.06, 2013, under Birdwatching, Grey Seal, MInke Whale, North Sea, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, White-beaked Dolphin

In late July there are a few species that we’d be amazed to not find on a North Sea pelagic trip; Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Gannet are all great birds to see, and are all part of the experience that is the North Sea in mid-summer.  There are other species that can overshadow the regular cast list though; Sooty Shearwater is a real ‘birders bird’, close views of any of the skuas grab the attention and, with seabirds covering such vast distances, there’s always the possibility of something completely unexpected.  But, for crowd-pleasing spectacular there’s little that can compete with our marine mammals.  Grey Seals often pop their heads up as we pass, but the real awe-inspiring species are whales and dolphinsOur previous pelagic had been illuminated by Minke Whales but on this trip we were confident of finding a different species.  Ten years of finding, studying, and mapping the distribution of, White-beaked Dolphins gives us a narrow target area to search in the third week in July…

As we headed north, a shout from Jimmy alerted everyone to the presence of a small pod of dolphins ahead of us.  Sure enough, the White-beaked Dolphins came across to investigate our boat and we soon had 12 of them around us 🙂  Once I was sure that everyone had seen them – which didn’t take too long! – I waited for them to surface alongside us so that I could take photographs of their dorsal fins.  Through a combination of NEWT pelagic trips and survey work for the North East Cetacean Project, we’ve built up a catalogue of individual White-beaked Dolphins off the Northumberland coast.  Having been the first pelagic tour operator to regularly find White-beaked Dolphins off the Northumberland coast, and the only one to have contributed to the Marine Conservation Zones project, we’re proud to have been involved in leading the way in groundbreaking research to map the distribution and abundance of White-beaked Dolphins. We’d like to thank all of our clients who’ve contributed, and continue to contribute, to the catalogue too 🙂

Of course, dolphin dorsal fin images aren’t the most exciting shots you can get, and the glassy calm water produced lots of other interesting possibilities…

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,Northumberland,North Sea,North Sea pelagics,dolphin watching Northumberland,whale watching Northumberland

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Mirror-calm

by on Aug.05, 2013, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, MInke Whale, Northumberland, Otter, Southeast Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

As I collected Carol and Howard from their holiday accommodation in Alnwick, the bright afternoon sunshine was going to make viewing conditions difficult for the first few hours.  The plan for the afternoon and evening was the one that has worked so well for us in mid-July previously; birdwatching around Druridge Bay, a quick scan of the sea while we have our picnic stop, then settle down to enjoy the wildlife that makes its appearance as daylight fades.

Little Egrets were the highlight of the first section of the afternoon, but what came next was so astonishing that I was lost for words…

As we arrived at our picnic spot, overlooking the North Sea, I was amazed to see that the sea was absolutely mirror-calm;  not a ripple or wave as far as the eye could see.  We’d only just started our soup and sandwiches when the mirror was shattered…by a White-beaked Dolphin 🙂  Many of our encounters with dolphins are small groups of animals that are travelling from one spot to another. Not this time though, as another three appeared next to the first one and they spent nearly an hour in the one small area, along with another eight animals in three small groups.  We watched them breaching, and circling in one tight area, presumably over a food source.  The most remarkable thing though, was that the sea was so flat that we could see the tell-tale fluke prints when they were just beneath the surface.  As the groups moved a little way, we knew exactly where they were going to surface next.  Now, watching dolphins in Northumberland waters is “something really special” ((c) Joanne, one of our regular North Sea pelagic clients) and the only way to top it is…to watch a Minke Whale surfacing just beyond the dolphins at the same time!  Awesome 🙂

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Local knowledge

by on Nov.06, 2012, under Family and friends, North Sea, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

As many regular readers of our blog will know, we have quite an affinity for our local pub The Swan at Choppington; Kirsty and Chris’s daughter, Annabel, is Sarah’s god-daughter, Northern Experience Images donated the photography for William’s calendar to raise funds for his World Challenge trip to Namibia and Botswana in 2013 (and Amy at Whiteacres, who has been the creative mind behind our logo and the NEWT Images range of cards and prints, donated her design services to the calendar project).

Friday evening is when we can usually be found relaxing at The Swan, and last Friday was no different.  Then I was asked “are you Martin?”.  Now, how was this going to pan out?  What followed was a very enjoyable discussion about all things wildlife; Red Squirrels, Otters, White-beaked Dolphins, the Northumberland coast, the North Sea and the best places to find a lot of our local specialities.  It was great to hear that a lot of locals follow our blog posts, and Peter had a request that we’re only too happy to oblige.  Here you are Peter, just for you…

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White-beaked Dolphins

by on Jul.30, 2012, under North Sea, Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

Friday was our final Royal Quays evening pelagic for this summer, and we were heading once again on to the North Sea in search of a species that has come to occupy much of my time; White-beaked Dolphin.  My first encounter with them was in 2003, on an evening pelagic, and we’ve found them many times since then.

I’ve spent long, difficult days offshore in the winter, researching their distribution while leading the North East Cetacean Project, I’ve stood on a clifftop with clients (on an Otter and Badger Safari!) as a pod covering several square miles of the North Sea passed by, I’ve taken photos like this one on flat seas in beautiful weather

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and I’ve had brief encounters in conditions where I was surveying but would never have taken clients out.  I’ve spent several hours watching them bow-riding

and I’ve laid on the front of a boat, looking down at a dolphin that was bow-riding upside down looking at me.

On Friday though, we witnessed behaviour that myself and Andy (who was also on board) had never come across before.  We think that what happened was a small group, including a tiny calf, were resting near the surface and we inadvertently woke them up.  The first indication we had that there were any dolphins around was when an adult crossed close to our bow, tail-slapping.  Another adult (or possibly the same one) then began breaching and for 20 minutes we found ourselves shadowed by a pod of about 10 animals.  No bow-riding, no interaction other than escorting us as we travelled slowly through their area, and a rare insight into the behaviour of a pod of dolphins protecting the next generation.  Eventually the pod dropped away from us and, as we headed south, we saw them for the final time as they milled about distantly in our wake.

We’ve got just one place still available for our September Royal Quays trips (that space is on September 22nd), our Whale and Dolphin Cruise from Seahouses on September 8th is filling rapidly and we’ve got a few spaces on our Farne Deeps trip from Royal Quays in search of White-beaked Dolphin, Minke Whale and seabirds on August 15th and our evening RIB trips from Seahouses.  Click here for more details or to book, or call 01670 827465 to reserve your place before they’re all sold out.

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