Tag: Pomarine Skua

A flying birdwatching trip to Holland

by on Oct.02, 2010, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland

On Wednesday afternoon we set off from Royal Quays, out into the North Sea, onboard the MV King of Scandinavia as guests of DFDS.  The weather forecast was for it to be wet, although we did manage a couple of hours birdwatching from the observation lounge before the driving rain obliterated the view.  Gannets were diving into the increasingly heavy swell, a stunning  Pomarine Skua arced across the bow of the ship and a single Puffin was tagging along with six Little Auks.

Arriving in IJmuiden the next morning, it was still raining 🙁  We were collected from the ferry terminal by Lin, a local guide who we had been introduced to by the ORCA wildlife officers from the ferry.  As we headed north Egyptian Geese were around the grass verges near the port, Cormorants  were perched atop most of the lampposts, Common Buzzards were on roadside fences and we saw one lingering Spoonbill.  Our destination was the reserve of Zwanenwater, where Lin is a volunteer.  As we walked through the reserve the high pitched ‘seep’ of Redwings was a constant backdrop, Song Thrushes were flushing from every patch of cover, every bush seemed to hold several Robins and a Common Redstart flicked up from the path in front of us.  We were then taken on a tour of the off-limits areas of the reserve by Fred, another of the volunteers.

Stonechats were seen along the track and there was an impressive spread of Grass of Parnassus.

Stonechat, Birdwatching

Stonechat, Zwanenwater, Noord-Holland 30/09/2010

Grass of Parnassus

Grass of Parnassus, Zwanenwater, Noord-Holland 30/09/2010

Despite the rain we managed an impressive haul of raptors; Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Osprey were all seen well but, most impressive of all, the real highlight for both of us was the views we had of Northern Goshawk.  The birds quartering the dunes in search of rabbits and small birds came as a bit of a surprise, but not as much as the two birds that were perched on dead trees overhanging the lake.  Fred explained that they sit there and watch the ducks, before swooping down and taking them off the water.  We didn’t see that, but we did manage some distant images of one of the birds.

Northern Goshawk, birdwatching

Northern Goshawk, Zwanenwater, Noord-Holland 30/09/2010

All too soon we were on the ferry again and heading back to Northumberland, making plans to return to Holland in the spring.

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Northumberland; Birdwatching on the high sea

by on Sep.19, 2010, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland

Yesterday was our final full-day pelagic for the year.  With a couple of late cancellations, ten of us boarded the SarahJFK and headed out to sea.  Before we reached the end of the Tyne piers there was already a bit of swell…

Once we were out and heading offshore it was exhilarating, with an often icy westerly breeze and long rolling waves from the north.  Small groups of Pale-bellied Brent Geese passed by during the day and a small group of Greylag Geese and Pink-footed Geese as well – a sure sign that the autumn is here.  There was an almost complete absence of Fulmars, leading to speculation about what these enigmatic seabirds are doing when we can’t find them, and only one Manx ShearwaterArctic Skuas were a bit thin on the ground, but we did find a good pelagic prize – a sub-adult Pomarine Skua that passed by with two Great Skuas.  Excellent views of the latter species, and some stunning Sooty Shearwaters were the highlight of the day, and there were lots of Kittiwakes and Gannets, although that accolade could have gone to the 2 White-beaked Dolphins that were seen briefly on 3 occasions late in the afternoon.

Northumberland birdwatching, pelagic, Great Skua

Great Skua or 'Bonxie'

Pelagic, Birdwatching Northumberland, Sooty Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater

Pelagic Birdwatching Northumberland Sooty Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater - the epitome of grace

The swell proved a bit too much for some participants so, in between scanning for birds and cetaceans, I spent some time providing sympathy and advice for the worst of the stricken 🙂  Don’t let that put you off signing up for any of next-year’s pelagics though; it’s actually quite unusual for anyone to be really seasick on one of our pelagics, but the big swell (probably originating a few days ago from the near the north west coast of Norway) combined with a strengthening westerly breeze was a freak combination of conditions that managed to hinder the enjoyment of all the birds around the boat for a couple of the girls.  I was once asked, by someone who was a self-professed non-sailor, why I would spend so much time on a small boat in the North Sea…I think that now I would just send them a link to the images in this post and the videos in my Farne Deeps trip report

We’ve got one more pelagic this year, around the Farne Islands, Holy Island and the Skate Road on Saturday December 4th, so give us a call on 01670 827465 for further details or to book.

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