Tag: Arctic Skua

Dolphin days; NEWT’s Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic 26/08/17

by on Aug.28, 2017, under North Sea

With a forecast of light westerlies and good weather, I arrived at Royal Quays ahead of our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic confident that we’d have a memorable day offshore…

Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Manx Shearwater, Great Skua and Arctic Skua all gave obliging views and then we started finding Minke Whales 🙂  Continuing northeast I was sitting alongside Allan in the wheelhouse and noticed some distant splashing – and there were six White-beaked Dolphins heading toward us!  More dolphins followed and we finished the day with a total of 3 Minke Whales, 6 Harbour Porpoise and 37 White-beaked Dolphins 🙂

We’ve got a few spaces available for our next 10hr sailing from Royal Quays (08:00, Saturday 2nd September), so give us a call on 01670 827465 to book your space before they’re gone!

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

Our 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic to the Farne Deeps on 26/08/17 produced an outstanding encounter with White-beaked Dolphins. as well as Minke Whales, Harbour Porpoise, Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater

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Pirates of Cullerfornia; NEWT’s North Sea pelagic 12/07/17

by on Jul.14, 2017, under North Sea

Offshore from the small seaside town of Cullercoats, there be pirates…

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

Our 4hr evening pelagic on 12th July brought excellent views of a dashing piratical Arctic Skua and a stunning sunset

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Don’t stop believin’…; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 02/09/16

by on Sep.05, 2016, under Druridge Bay, North Sea

Friday was the latest of our 2016 pelagic trips from Royal Quays and, once we’d recovered the participant who’d inadvertently headed to the ferry terminal, we sailed north east from the Tyne.  A few Sooty Shearwaters passed by and one was rafting with Guillemots, Fulmars soared effortlessly in the stiffening breeze and an Arctic Skua (a worryingly infrequent find on our pelagic tours over the last couple of years) was harassing Kittiwakes.  A feeding flock of Gannets revealed the location of our first White-beaked Dolphins of the day, unidentified (but obviously very large) cetaceans were breaching on the edge of the Farne Deeps and another small group of White-beaked Dolphins came alongside as the breeze, and swell, started building.

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White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,Northern Experience Pelagics,North Sea dolphin spotting,North Sea whalewatching,North Sea whale watching,Northumberland dolphin spotting,Northumberland whalewatching,Northumberland whale watching

Heading inshore to calmer waters we decided to search the nearshore from Druridge Bay down to Souter Point.  Everything seemed quiet and I’d just taken my usual ‘end of pelagic’ shot of St Mary’s Island when Teri said she was sure that she’d just seen fins breaking the surface near a pot marker.  A couple of minutes of searching didn’t produce any more sightings…and then suddenly the sea erupted with Bottlenose Dolphins 🙂

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Bow-riding beauties; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 13/08/16

by on Aug.16, 2016, under North Sea

Saturday was the first of our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic‘ trips this year, and I arrrived at Royal Quays to find eight, out of 12, clients already there and looking forward to the day out in Northumberland’s deep offshore waters.  With everyone on board we set sail out of the Tyne in a fairly stiff breeze and on choppy water.  An Arctic Skua was harrassing Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Gannets soared past on stiff outstretched wings, a flock of Knot flew by and, probably the most unexpected sighting of the day, a Common Swift was heading landwards from around 6 miles offshore.  Puffins and Guillemots were sitting quietly on the sea and, as we headed further out, the breeze died away and we were on calm water when we found the first White-beaked Dolphins of the day.  These 12 animals spent a little time bow-riding before peeling off and heading back to resume feeding.  A few minutes later and a distant dolphin was breaching ahead of us.  As we reached that spot, we suddenly had 10 White-beaked Dolphins bow-riding and at least another ten following close behind and alongside us 🙂

We’ve got a limited number of places still available on our 10hr sailings on Friday September 2nd, Saturday September 10th and Saturday September 24th.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 to book your place before they’re all filled!

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,Northern Experience Pelagics,North Sea dolphin spotting,North Sea whalewatching,North Sea whale watching,Northumberland dolphin spotting,Northumberland whalewatching,Northumberland whale watching

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,Northern Experience Pelagics,North Sea dolphin spotting,North Sea whalewatching,North Sea whale watching,Northumberland dolphin spotting,Northumberland whalewatching,Northumberland whale watching

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,Northern Experience Pelagics,North Sea dolphin spotting,North Sea whalewatching,North Sea whale watching,Northumberland dolphin spotting,Northumberland whalewatching,Northumberland whale watching

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White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,Northern Experience Pelagics,North Sea dolphin spotting,North Sea whalewatching,North Sea whale watching,Northumberland dolphin spotting,Northumberland whalewatching,Northumberland whale watching

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White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,Northern Experience Pelagics,North Sea dolphin spotting,North Sea whalewatching,North Sea whale watching,Northumberland dolphin spotting,Northumberland whalewatching,Northumberland whale watching

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,Northern Experience Wildlife Tours,Northern Experience Pelagics,North Sea dolphin spotting,North Sea whalewatching,North Sea whale watching,Northumberland dolphin spotting,Northumberland whalewatching,Northumberland whale watching

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Seawatching; Druridge Bay mini-safari 16/07/2015

by on Jul.20, 2015, under Druridge Bay

Thursday’s second mini-safari was around NEWT’s local patch of Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.

I arrived at Church Point to collect Mike, and we started with a scan of the sea in search of White-beaked Dolphin.  It was a bit on the choppy side for observing cetaceans, but there was an obvious movement of seabirds heading north.  Mike soon picked up two birds away to the south, and we watched as these adult Pomarine Skuas passed close by the point.  Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Gannets, Great Skua and 200 Manx Shearwaters passed by in just over 90 minutes and three Arctic Skuas were harrassing terns in the bay.  Common Scoter were also heading north and what had started as a search for Otters, with a scan of the sea for dolphins, had morphed into a fantastic seawatch with an accompaniment of summer-plumaged Turnstone and Golden Plover 🙂

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Never mind the Balearics…

by on Oct.12, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea

…here’s the Bonxies.

Watching the weather forecast during the week, and having a day on Holy Island on Thursday with Malcolm (trip report to come soon!), convinced me that there was somewhere I needed to be at dawn on Friday.  Arriving at Church Point in the half-light there were a few cars already parked, and a wander along to the point with Mike H found the owners of those cars already intently scanning the angry-looking sea.  Andy McL, Tim C., Eric B., David D. and Jimmy S. were all clustered around the ‘seawatching hut’.

It would be good to be able to report that I’m thoroughly domesticated and house-trained and, after the few hours I’d planned to spend seawatching, I went home, via the supermarket to do the grocery shopping, and did all of the housework.  However, back in what Sarah refers to as ‘the world according to Martin’ that couple of hours to see if there was any movement of seabirds turned into a plan to stay until 12:00…then mid-afternoon…and finally, as the light faded to the point where you could hallucinate the sort of sightings that Ellington’s second best birdwatcher * was enjoying a few miles to the north of us, I gave up just after 18:00.  11 hours on Church Point, but a not-too-shabby day list;

Black Guillemot 1

Great Crested Grebe 1

Pale-bellied Brent Goose 20

Dark-bellied Brent Goose 2

Long-tailed Duck 4

Goldeneye 9

Velvet Scoter 15

Shoveler 24

Red-throated Diver 24

Black-throated Diver 3

Great Northern Diver 7

Manx Shearwater 53

Sooty Shearwater 62

Balearic Shearwater 2

Great Skua 261

Pomarine Skua 3

Long-tailed Skua 3

Arctic Skua 8

Red-breasted Merganser 7

Little Gull 3

Arctic Tern 1

‘blue’ Fulmar 12

Short-eared Owl 1

*Ellington’s best birdwatcher is, and it really goes without saying, Iain’s better half, Janet 🙂

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Birdwatching in an iconic landscape; Lindisfarne 23/09/2013

by on Sep.24, 2013, under Birdwatching, Holy Island, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

After two long hard days offshore (8hr pelagic on Saturday – blog post coming soon! – and 14hr offshore on Sunday for a North East Cetacean Project transect survey) today brought some light relief from the rolling swell of the North Sea as I headed north to Seahouses to collect Phil and Ann (who had won a morning out with NEWT in a competition on Visit Northumberland) and Rachael and Alex, who by happy coincidence were all staying at St Cuthbert’s House.

In weather that was glorious, even by the high standards set during this year, we headed north towards Holy Island.  In the north of Northumberland, with a falling tide, it was looking like a good waders and wildfowl morning.  Mudflats were dotted with a mosaic of Mallard, Shelduck, Curlew, Dunlin, Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Pink-footed Geese and, as we drove along the coastal road towards Holy Island, we had the treat of watching a Sparrowhawk as it flew just ahead of us, only inches above the road.  Ringed Plover and more Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank were feeding in the mud of Holy Island harbour, Pied Wagtails were, well, wagging their tails along the pebbly edge of the harbour, a flock of House Sparrows was engaged in stripping the seeds from grasses just above the tideline and House Martins and Swallows were sallying back and forth in search of insects in the warm autumn sunshine.  Flocks of waders in flight are a spectacle to rival any other and as we watched, and listened to, a group of Grey Seals that were hauled out on the sandbanks between the island and the mainland, the amorphous twisting turning shapes in the air high overhead resolved into flocks of Golden Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit.

The final part of the plan for the morning was a short session of seawatching.  Sandwich and Common Terns were diving close to the shore, Gannets were a bit further out and the sea was dotted with the dark shapes of EidersTurnstones were perched on the top of rocky outcrops, a Harbour Porpoise proved elusive as it surfaced to breathe and an Arctic Skua raced south before everyone could get on to it.  Obligingly it came back north, settled on the sea for a little while and then continued steadily north before breaking off into a aerobatic attack on a Sandwich Tern with another skua joining in as the tern twisted and turned in an attempt to evade the pirates of the sea as they attempted to rob it of it’s recent catch.

Lots of birds, lots of interesting wildlife behaviour to watch, and four clients who were all great fun to spend the morning with – if I ever suggest that I’m going to return to teaching, just point me in the direction of this blog post 🙂

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Beauty in the ‘mundane’

by on Aug.30, 2013, under Birdwatching, Grey Seal, Lindisfarne, Northumberland

LBJ.  No, not the 36th President of the United States, but the acronym used by many birdwatchers to describe any relatively small, nondescript brown bird – ‘Little Brown Job’.  Over the last few years, a number of our clients have applied that term to two birds that I always think deserve closer attention…

I collected Jo and Kirsty from Alnwick for their second consecutive day out with me and we headed straight up the coast and made our way on to Holy IslandCurlews were passing overhead as we walked around the bits of the island that weren’t full of other people, those two LBJ’s, Skylark and Meadow Pipit, were dodging in and out of long grass in the fields by the path, Kirsty started photographing Swallows and quickly progressed to using flash to freeze the action as they hovered in front of us feeding beakfuls of flies to recently fledged juveniles and Golden Plover and Oystercatcher were probing around rockpools as Grey Seals bobbed about in the gentle surf just offshore.  Edges are always a productive area; edges of fields, woodland, moorland and the shoreline – that ever shifting edge of the sea and the land.  That latter edge produced some stunning Bar-tailed Godwits, and an impressively large group of very vocal Grey Seals.

As we continued back down the coast the mist thickened and we were eventually in the surreal position of having blazing sunshine on our backs and visibility of less than 100m in front of us.  As a loose flock of Eiders drifted close inshore and then back out again, and Swallows and House Martins hawked insects low over the beach, a dark menacing shape drifted out of the mist, passed in front of us, and then drifted back into the impenetrable white mass.  Always a bird to grab the attention on a seawatch, the Arctic Skua was only in view for a few seconds as it made it’s way south along the coast, and we headed inland into glorious weather again.

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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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(Not the) Farne Islands 09/07/2012

by on Jul.10, 2012, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Farne Islands, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast

Yesterday was a Farne Islands Prestige Tour…or at least that was the plan…

As I drove towards Seahouses to collect Dick and Jenny, having already figured out that there weren’t going to be any sailings to the islands in those conditions, I received the call that confirmed it.  So, what to do instead?  A quick discussion with clients who had realised before I arrived that it wasn’t a day for heading across to the Farnes…and then we were off on a tour of the Northumberland coast.  Grey Seals were ‘bottling’ just offshore, female Eiders were supervising the creches of this year’s youngsters, Shelduck were feeding along the tideline and Oystercatchers and Redshank were probing next to the breaking surf.  We headed south to see what the weather at that end of the coast would bring…and had a not too bad afternoon around Druridge Bay 🙂  Mediterranean Gulls were loafing alongside Black-headed Gulls, a female Marsh Harrier flew across in front of the car (and we later found her again, perched in a bush overlooking her nest site), Dick found a Long-eared Owl that performed for over ten minutes – hunting amongst the reeds and rushes in broad daylight, Jenny spotted a Roe Deer and a Brown Hare lolloped into view nearby, no less than 23 Little Gulls were in a roost that also had three Black-tailed Godwits, a Dunlin, still with a solidly black belly, was sleeping next to a small pool and we even managed a spot of seawatching; a huge flock of Gannets and terns was circling and plunging, three Arctic Skuas pursued and robbed the successful terns and a raft of Common Scoter rose into view, and then fell again, just beyond the surf.  Perhaps the most unusual sight of the day though, was a Barn Owl carrying prey, not unusual in itself, but the bird flew 3/4 of the way anticlockwise around the north pool at East Chevington, then flew back all the way it had just come before flying 3/4 of the way around the pool clockwise to get back to where it had been five minutes earlier.  Wildlife, you never know when it’s going to appear, you never know what it’s going to do…

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