Desolate wastes; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 02/08/19

by on 03/08/19 08:58, under North Sea

Yesterday’s 4hr evening pelagic was a strange one; a few Guillemots, a Puffin, a Razorbill with juvenile, Fulmars circling, Kittiwakes following us, a Mediterranean Gull that came and inspected us before heading back towards the shore, a Common Seal, a briefly seen fin that was probably a Harbour Porpoise and then line after line of Gannets streaming north towards the Bass Rock after presumably heading well south of the Tyne in search of food…and we weren’t seeing fish on the echo finder anywhere between the Tyne and Newbiggin. The crazy thing about the fluidity of marine wildlife distribution is that we could well go out next Wednesday and be surrounded by dolphins 🙂

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Murky; NEWT’s North Sea pelagic 26/07/19

by on 02/08/19 11:56, under North Sea

Glassy calm sea, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Puffins, Common Scoters, Gannets, a couple of Harbour Porpoises putting in brief appearances…and torrential rain and generally murky conditions all made for a quite atmospheric 4hr evening pelagic 🙂

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Druridge Bay Safari 25/07/19

by on 02/08/19 11:14, under Druridge Bay

On a warm muggy afternoon I collected Julie & Paul and Geoff and Minouche ahead of an afternoon and evening around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland

Late July is often a time to watch waders, and after a riverside walk that produced good views of a Dipper we started working our way through the coastal pools. A Barn Owl was ghosting its way along a hedgerow as Little Egrets and Grey Herons stalked through the shallows, a Water Rail scurried between clumps of rush and an impressive array of waders was well appreciated; Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Knot, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Ringed Plover were all roosting or feeding, a Spotted Redshank flew over, the trilling whistles of Whimbrel cut through the evening air and panic spread the the wader flocks as a male Marsh Harrier quartered the reedbeds and the precursors to the big Starling murmurations of the winter speckled the sky.

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Porpoiseful observation; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 24/07/19

by on 25/07/19 10:49, under North Sea

Yesterday’s 4hr evening pelagic started with a sky that looked certain to deliver an impressive sunset…

With little swell and only a very gentle westerly breeze, the sea was as smooth as we’ve seen it in a while. Puffins and Guillemots were on the water and skittering across the surface as we passed them, Kittiwakes were following us, Gannets soared by, flocks of Common Scoter were rafting then taking off and speckling the steel grey sky to the east and the star of the show was the tiny, undemonstrative Harbour Porpoise. we don’t encounter them very often so finding at least two mother/calf pairs was a real bonus 🙂

Harbour Porpoises were the stars of the show on our 4hr evening pelagic on 24/07/19
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A swell time ;-) NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 19/07/19

by on 22/07/19 12:41, under North Sea, White-beaked Dolphin

Friday’s 4hr evening pelagic headed out of the Tyne piers into a stiff breeze and long rolling swell…

Kittiwakes and Fulmars circled the boat, Gannets soared by, Manx Shearwaters rose out of the troughs and up over wave crests before vanishing back behind the swell, Puffins , Guillemots and Razorbills sat on the water before making a frantic escape and small flocks of Common Scoter passed by.

Heading south a dolphin put in a brief and stealthy appearance so we were soon on our way again…and six White-beaked Dolphins were suddenly bow-riding in the gloom of a cloud laden sunset 🙂

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Blustery; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 17/07/19

by on 19/07/19 13:28, under North Sea

Wednesday’s 4hr evening pelagic had a forecast that looked good…

We checked south of the Tyne first and were accompanied by Kittiwakes and Fulmars on a stiffening westerly as Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills sat on the water, Gannets soared past and flocks of Common Scoter speckled the dark grey sky. By the time we found a couple of White-beaked Dolphins the rain was quite heavy but almost everyone stayed out on deck watching them 🙂

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 17/07/19 brought a stiff westerly wind, rain and White-beaked Dolphins
Our 4hr evening pelagic on 17/07/19 brought a stiff westerly wind, rain and White-beaked Dolphins
Our 4hr evening pelagic on 17/07/19 brought a stiff westerly wind, rain and White-beaked Dolphins
Our 4hr evening pelagic on 17/07/19 brought a stiff westerly wind, rain and White-beaked Dolphins
Our 4hr evening pelagic on 17/07/19 brought a stiff westerly wind, rain and White-beaked Dolphins
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Under the moonlight; Otter mini-Safari 15/07/19

by on 17/07/19 08:32, under Druridge Bay, Otter

Arriving in Newbiggin to collect Dave and Dawn ahead of an evening around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland exploring NEWT’s favourite Otter sites I smiled when Dave said “We have no idea what the plan is or what’s happening. Our daughter just told us to be here to meet you”…

We started with our usual riparian woodland walk, and Dave spotted a Dipper sitting quietly on a mid-stream rock. It started preening and bathing and then took a few short swims underwater before flying off upstream.

With a gentle breeze cooling the warmth of the Sun, Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers were putting in brief appearances in the reeds, Reed Buntings were singing their simple song, flocks of Starlings flew to roost and a dense flock of Sand Martins alternated between gorging themselves on flies and perching along the face of a reedbed as a Barn Owl quartered the dunes before flying past us carrying prey.

A Spotted Redshank feeding frantically in the shallows joined a mass panic as Curlews, Avocets and Lapwings took to the air before gradually settling back down as Grey Herons and a Little Egret darted at small fish. Scanning around the edge of the water I noticed a swirl lingering close to a reedbed and then all of the waders took flight again. For a few minutes all we could see were the ripples from something disturbing the water in a gap in the reeds…and then the Otter swam into view 🙂 We watched it for around 30 minutes before it vanished into a reedbed as the full Moon rose, flanked by Jupiter and Saturn, and the Barn Owl perched on a pole near the car and almost directly in front of the Moon 🙂

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Subtle sunset…and here come the White-beaks :-) NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 10/07/19

by on 11/07/19 12:21, under North Sea

After a cetacean-free pelagic last Friday I was hopeful that Bottlenose Dolphins have mainly moved north and White-beaked Dolphins would be here any day now…

A flock of Common Scoter off Whitley Bay liftg4d from the water and flew past us, Puffins and Common Guillemots were sitting on the sea, Gannets soared past and myself and Tim both spotted a large, slow moving fin away to the north. It looked like a probable Minke Whale, although we couldn’t relocate it, but then breaching White-beaked Dolphins appeared from the north and showed brief interest in the boat 🙂

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Heron there ;-) Druridge Bay Safari 09/07/19

by on 10/07/19 16:02, under Druridge Bay

I collected Robin and Cia, and Linda and Pete, from Newbiggin ahead of a day exploring Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland…

Over the years we’ve refined our tours on the coast to included different habitat types and starting with a walk through some riparian woodland we were rewarded with great views of Nuthatches and a Dipper as a Banded Demoiselle proved flighty and the quiet calls of Bullfinches revealed their presence in rank vegetation and the treetops.

On the coast a Kestrel was hanging in the breeze as Curlews, Oystercatchers and Common Redshanks explored rockpools and a Meadow Pipit lined up alongside a row of Tree Sparrows as the simple song of Reed Buntings, the fast chatter of Sedge Warblers and the rhythmic chuntering of Reed Warblers emanated from the reedbeds around coastal pools and a very vocal Linnet was incredibly obliging just a few feet way from us on a fence post. Linda and Pete’s experience of birdwatching in the warm sunshine of Portugal hadn’t prepared them for the sight of a Spoonbill in the cool heavy rain of Northumberland in early July, and Little Egrets added to the southern feel alongside the much more regular sight of Grey Herons stalking imperiously through the shallows as a fantastic group of waders included Avocet, Lapwing, Curlew, Dunlin, Common Redshank, a lone Golden Plover, brief Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper that only showed for a couple of seconds as they flew from the mud along the reed edges in front of us, Black-tailed Godwits in fantastic orangey red plumage and a Spotted Redshank that stopped obligingly alongside a Common Redshank allowing a great comparison. Another set of species that allowed an impromptu ID masterclass were Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns as the rain intensified and we headed back in the late afternoon.

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St Mary’s sunset; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 05/07/19

by on 09/07/19 08:36, under North Sea

Friday’s 4hr pelagic demonstrated just how quickly things can change with our marine wildlife. A few Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets and small flocks of Manx Shearwaters and a bigger flock of Common Scoter were far fewer birds than on our previous sailings and the echo finder showed that there was very little in the way of shoals of bait fish. The end of the evening brought another stunning sunset behind St Mary’s Island, with a whale-shaped gap in the clouds, as we headed back towards the marina 🙂

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