Tag: North Sea pelagic

A Whale of a time; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 12/07/13 Part 2

by on Jul.17, 2013, under Birdwatching, MInke Whale, North Sea, Northumberland

It was a chance I wasn’t going to miss; I was on the PV St Oswald, we were about to pass the SarahJFK in the River Tyne at North Shields, Sarah was on board with 10 of our clients and a late withdrawal had left a space free 🙂  The smoothest of  ship-to-ship transfers – accomplished by two excellent skippers who I would trust with my life – took place, and I was heading back out into the North Sea for another 4hr sailing 🙂

Heading back to the location of the last White-beaked Dolphin sighting I’d had during the survey, we were on the North Sea in quite remarkable conditions.  So flat that it looked like glass, Gannets, Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters, Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills were all reflected in the glassy surface.  A small group of dolphins surfaced, but only myself on the starboard side, and Jon on the back of the boat on the port side managed to see them as they were directly in front of us.  We continued our search as a spectacular sunset started to develop and then, as we headed back through the area where the dolphins had been, and it suddenly turned overcast, Ruth said “there’s something over there”.  That something was a Minke Whale, and soon everyone on board had excellent views as it surfaced and fed 🙂  Could it get any better?  Of course it could…then there were 2 together!  Away to the south, what was, probably, a 3rd Minke Whale surfaced and then the sort of magic that our summer evening North Sea pelagic trips seem to produce so often happened.  The sun broke through the clouds and I could see some interesting photographic opportunities developing…as long as the whale was going to be obliging 🙂

Northern Fulmar,Fulmarus glacialis,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,Whalewatching. Dolphin watching,Birdwatching

Common Guillemot,Uria aalge,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,Whalewatching,Dolphin watching,Birdwatching

Minke Whale,Balaenoptera acutorostrata,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,Whalewatching,Dolphin watching,Birdwatching

We’ve got a few spaces remaining on some of this year’s North Sea pelagic trips so give us a call on 01670 827465 to find out what’s available and to book your place.  You’ll get to spend time on the North Sea and all of the sightings we make on our pelagic trips are contributing to a genuinely groundbreaking research project that’s the only one providing vital information about the distribution and abundance of Northumberland’s whales, dolphins and porpoises, to the ongoing Marine Conservation Zones process.

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Jumping ship; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 12/07/13 Part 1

by on Jul.17, 2013, under Birdwatching, MInke Whale, North Sea, Northumberland

Our fourth evening pelagic for 2013 was last Friday, and it was looking like I wasn’t going to make it…

05:00 and the alarm cuts through my slumber.  I get out of bed, go downstairs and make coffee.  Camera equipment, cetacean survey kit (gps, rangefinder binoculars, recording forms) and food had been sorted out on Thursday evening so no rush.

06:00 I board the St Oswald for a North East Cetacean Project transect survey with Steve and Charlotte as my survey team members, and within minutes we’re sailing out of the Tyne.  Then I find out that our route for the day has changed and we’re not due back into Royal Quays until 20:00!  A quick text to Sarah ‘…we might not be back until 8!!! Can you lead the pelagic for me if I’m not back please?’ received a response that would shock anyone who knows her 😉  A quick exchange of texts and all was sorted…Sarah is very popular with our clients, and Allan and Jimmy are by some distance the most experienced pelagic boat crew in the North East so I settled, relaxed, to a day of surveying.

Small groups of White-beaked Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises were found throughout the day, and 2 Minke Whales added some ‘bulk’ to our sightings.  By 17:00 I was texting a route, based on the last 11h of observations, for the evening pelagic to Sarah and Allan.  With the flooding tide hastening our southward journey we knew that we would be passing the SarahJFK somewhere around North Shields Fish Quay…

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A picture paints a thousand words; NEWT’s North Sea pelagic 21/06/2013

by on Jun.22, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland

Red-necked Phalarope,Phalaropus lobatus,North Sea,Northumberland,pelagic birdwatching,North Sea pelagics,whale watching,dolphin watching,www.northernexperienceimages.co.uk

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Life begins at 40

by on Sep.06, 2010, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland

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.

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