Tag: Farne Deeps
Friday was our long-awaited pelagic to the Farne Deeps. We’d originally planned the trip for August 12th, but the weather put paid to that Rescheduling to September 3rd meant that four of the original participants had to withdraw because of other commitments, but we were able to fill those places and have a reserve list. Birdwatching from a boat in the North Sea, with the possibility of cetaceans as well, is always an enjoyable way to spend a day.
When I arrived at Royal Quays just after 7.30 I was surprised to see that nine of the other eleven participants were already there; obviously eager to join Northern Experience on our ‘voyage into the unknown’.
As we left the Tyne we soon began to began to find Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins on the sea; all 3 species featuring regularly throughout the day. Gannets, Fulmars and Kittiwakes were all seen in good numbers (Kittiwakes in particular) and we continued to head north northeast, getting further offshore from the Northumberland coast.
I was watching the depth plotter carefully as we approached the edge of the deep water and, as I stepped out of the wheelhouse, thinking that things could get very interesting quite soon, almost collapsed as Allan shouted “Dolphin!”. Within a minute we’d got two stunning White-beaked Dolphins bow-riding. They stayed with us for 40 minutes, and during that time there were at least another three a little distance from the boat. I managed to get ‘a bit’ of video footage
As if all the excitement of having the dolphins around the boat wasn’t enough, Geoff Morgan spotted a Grey Phalarope (Red Phalarope for any readers in the US). After Geoff’s initial call it was 4 mins before the bird was relocated; sitting on the sea in front of the boat as we continued along with the dolphins. The phalarope, as well as an excellent bird to see in early September, was a milestone as it’s the 40th ‘seabird’ (defined as those covered by Peter Harrison’s excellent ‘Seabirds: an identification guide’) to be found on pelagic trips off Northumberland since the first NTBC organised trip in 1987.
As well as the birds mentioned previously we also found;
Manx Shearwater 4
Sooty Shearwater 4
Arctic Skua 4
Great Skua 9
Typically, the Manx Shearwaters and Arctic Skuas stayed well away from the boat but the Sooty Shearwaters and Great Skuas were much more obliging
By the end of the day, nearly everyone on board had enjoyed lifers; the White-beaked Dolphins were a much sought-after species for Joanne and the result of a lot of effort With the battalion of long lenses on the boat, there’ll be plenty of good quality images for the White-beaked Dolphin identification catalogue that forms part of the Northeast Cetacean Project. We’ll be running at least two trips out to the Farne Deeps next year (date and cost tbc) so get in touch soon to register your interest. With only 12 places available they’ll fill quickly.
After the 10hr marathon of the Farne Deeps, our 8hr pelagic on Saturday was just like a pleasure cruise Again we had good numbers of Kittiwake, Gannet and Fulmar, as well as some very obliging Sooty Shearwaters. With some of South Tyneside’s finest on board, I was half-hoping that one of them would point his camera at the sky and randomly photograph a Cape Gannet Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Never mind, there’s always next week…and the week after…and next year.
We had a couple of disappointments at the end of last week, both due to the weather. First we had to postpone our Farne Deeps Pelagic and then I was booked on a trip to the Dogger Bank, which also fell victim to the strong northerlies. Both trips have been rescheduled though so, fingers crossed, they will happen eventually. We’ve got a few places available for the Farne Deeps on September 3rd, although most of our original participants quickly arranged days off work when I gave them the new date, so call us on 01670 827465 to reserve your place on this groundbreaking trip.
With Friday morning clear in my diary I managed a spot of seawatching; that most esoteric form of birdwatching. Then we had a couple of nights in Whitby, followed by a visit to Chesterfield for a Christening, and then home again late last night. While we were away there was a missed call on my mobile; Alan Tilmouth wondering if we’d be interested in a trip across to the Longstone if Saturday’s Thrush Nightingale had remained there overnight. As it was it hadn’t, and we were away anyway. Then, last night came the news of a Booted/Sykes’s Warbler at Hadston Links. With a frantic two weeks ahead of us, I had to work hard to convince myself that I had the time to go and see the bird
Now these two species are a tricky pair to separate and, despite information put out by various bird information services earlier today, I know that the ID isn’t considered to be cut and dried. For what it’s worth, I’ll stick my neck out and say that, on balance, I’m leaning towards Booted Warbler. The real problem though is that in some images it looks very much like a Booted Warbler, in some it looks like Sykes’s. In real life it was just as perplexing, apparently morphing from one to the other. Is it a Booted Warbler, fluffing itself up against the cold (the opinion I expressed to another local blogger after I saw the bird this morning), or a Sykes’s Warbler that occasionally looks sleeker than expected?
Another remarkable warbler earned a local birder, and occasional Northern Experience Pelagic participant, a major honour this month. Dougie Holden, the finder of the Trow Quarry Eastern Crowned Warbler, won the Carl Zeiss Award, which is presented for the photograph or set of photographs considered to have been the most instructive during BBRC’s assessment of rarities over the previous year.
As if all these rare warblers weren’t enough to be going on with, I went into the kitchen this morning only to find Sarah staring intently through her binoculars. Wood Warbler is an extraordinary bird for a southeast Northumberland garden, but there it was. Neither of us had that down as the next addition to the garden list but, as with most of the really good birds on our list, it’s no surprise that Sarah found it