White-beaked Dolphin

Dark night

by on Jul.12, 2012, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

This has been a difficult year for boat operators on the east coast, with unseasonable winds and frequent heavy rainfall making it unwise to head out to sea.

Tuesday was the first of this year’s evening pelagics to survive the weather so, as we set out from Royal Quays on the SarahJFK, I was full of optimism.  Soon after leaving the mouth of the Tyne, Allan spotted a Harbour Porpoise, although it remained typically elusive.  Kittiwakes were following us throughout the evening, no doubt wondering if we were going to throw any scraps overboard, Gannets and Fulmars were passing by and, all around us, the sky looked heavy with something…

I’d had a call earlier in the day to say that a small pod of dolphins were passing Newbiggin, so I took a guess on where they would be by mid-evening and asked Allan to plot a course that would take us through the area.  Sure enough, just where we expected them, 6 White-beaked Dolphins, including the smallest calf that I’ve seen in the ten years since we first found White-beaked Dolphins on one of our pelagic trips, appeared in front of the boat and then came in to bow-ride 🙂  They stayed with us for several minutes before heading south, probably to feed, and we continued north.    5 Manx Shearwaters were heading north, and a flock of 30 Common ScotersAll the while the weather around us was looking poor, and eventually we found ourselves in a heavy, misty drizzle as we headed back to port, and by the time we docked it was properly dark – not something we’d normally expect in mid-July.

Glowering, oppressive weather conditions, remarkably good visibility, a sea state that was ideal for cetacean spotting, a boat full of enthusiastic clients and a pod of dolphins…perfect 🙂

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A tale of 3 pelagics

by on Aug.04, 2011, under Druridge Bay, North Sea, Southeast Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

After our stunning pelagic on Friday, we had 3 more evening trips in 5 days, all concentrating on the southeast Northumberland coast.

Saturday was a massive contrast with Friday; only 2 brief White-beaked Dolphins, but Gannets and Fulmars were in great abundance and 3 Great Skuas, 2 Manx Shearwaters and 5 Sooty Shearwaters added to the birdwatching interest.

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Northern Gannet,Northumberland,bird photography tuition,wildlife photography tuition,pelagic trips

Northern Gannet,Northumberland,bird photography courses,bird photography holidays,wildlife photography holidays,pelagic trips

Monday was the day that the weather forecast was really, really wrong.  Just 20 minutes out of the Tyne, the heavens opened and most on board headed for the shelter of the wheelhouse.  With the North Sea appearing to be coming to the boil, fortune favoured the brave, and the 2 participants who stayed on deck with me during the deluge were the only ones lucky enough to see the White-beaked Dolphin that surfaced just a few metres away from us.  Manx Shearwaters, Arctic Skuas and lots of Gannets provided entertainment once the rain had ceased, but the dolphins remained elusive.

That brings us to yesterday evening.  A very calm sea and cetacean reports from earlier in the day (12 unidentified dolphins south past Tynemouth at 06:30, porpoises just off Cullercoats from the SarahJFK and 2 White-beaked Dolphins in Newbiggin Bay at 17:15 all seemed to bode well).  We’d just passed between the Tyne piers and started to head north when we came across 8 White-beaked Dolphins and 3 Harbour Porpoises!  After enjoying several views of them, I explained to all on board that it isn’t usually that easy and we continued north.  Arctic Skuas were seen as we passed St Mary’s Island but the real entertainment began when Andy spotted a distant fin north of Blyth.  After a wait of several minutes the dolphins began to surface in ever-increasing numbers, eventually we were surrounded by over 30 animals bow-riding, breaching and milling about.  As the dolphins began to drift away, presumably to feed once they’d finished playing with our boat, we continued north into Newbiggin Bay.  Our return journey produced more dolphin sightings, including one animal repeatedly ‘spyhopping’, and some incredible views of animals swimming slowly around the boat.  The only downside (if there really was a downside) was the murky, overcast conditions made it seem like dusk almost from the moment we set sail.  We can choose times/dates appropriate to what our clients want to see, we can use our knowledge and fieldcraft to maximise the chances of encountering any desired species…but we can’t control the weather.  Wouldn’t it be a dull life if we could though?

White-beaked Dolhin, Northumberland,dolphin watching trips,whale watching trips,wildlife photography holidays

White-beaked Dolphin,Northumberland,dolphin watching trips,whale watching trips,wildlife photography holidays

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White night

by on Jul.30, 2011, under North Sea, Northumberland, Southeast Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

After a couple of poor-weather weekends, the elements relented and we headed out from Royal Quays on the SarahJFK for a 4hr evening pelagic in the North Sea off southeast Northumberland.  Pomarine Skua, Manx Shearwater, Common Scoters and a summer-plumaged Red-throated Diver were the birdwatching highlights, but were eclipsed by what Stephen described as “the greatest wildlife experience of my life”.  We’ve got a busy programme of offshore wildlife trips over the coming months, and here a few images that show why they’re so popular;

White-beaked Dolphin,dolphin watching trips,whale watching trips,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours

White-beaked Dolphin,dolphin watching trips,whale watching trips,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours

White-beaked Dolphin,dolphin watching trips,whale watching trips,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours

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