Tag: Puffin

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

by on Aug.03, 2019, 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 Aug.02, 2019, 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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Porpoiseful observation; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 24/07/19

by on Jul.25, 2019, 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 Jul.22, 2019, 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 Jul.19, 2019, 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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Subtle sunset…and here come the White-beaks :-) NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 10/07/19

by on Jul.11, 2019, 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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St Mary’s sunset; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 05/07/19

by on Jul.09, 2019, 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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Dolphins and a stunning sunset :-) NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 03/07/19

by on Jul.04, 2019, under Bottlenose Dolphin, North Sea

We set out from Royal Quays in better conditions than on Friday and Laura quickly found the Bottlenose Dolphins just around the corner in King Edward’s Bay again 🙂

With Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Common Scoters all seen as we headed north towards Newbiggin, Laura spotted more dolphins and they came to bow-ride the JFK Two as the dipping Sun bathed them in beautiful light as Jupiter rose through the Belt of Venus and a stunning sunset provided a backdrop to St Mary’s Island as we headed back to the river 🙂

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Head’s up :-) Bespoke Farne Islands Safari 27/06/19

by on Jul.01, 2019, under Farne Islands

Thursday was a Farne Islands Safari, and after we cancelled Wednesday’s 4hr pelagic due to the rather lumpy sea I was pleased to see that it was nice and calm as I collected Peter and Jan from Newbiggin…

A Kestrel perched obligingly on a telegraph pole as we headed up the coast and our first stop, for Arctic and Little Terns, produced an unexpected Spotted Redshank and a Ringed Plover as well as an extraordinary number of Common Blue butterflies and a good number of Painted Ladies over the incredible carpet of Bloody Cranesbill in the dunes with Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and Stonechat all along the walk.

After having our picnic on the beach at Beadnell we headed to Seahouses and discovered that parking spaces were in short supply so we parked on the edge of the town and walked down to the harbour where Eiders were on the water with well-grown young, for our sailing on board Glad Tidings. Rafts of Puffins on the water scattered ahead of the boats heading towards the islands as lines of Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffin headed back to their hungry chicks. Gannets soared past as Grey Seals lazed on the rocks, Cormorants and Shags dried their wings in heraldic pose, Fulmars skirted the clifftops, the onomatopoeic cries of Kittiwakes echoed in the rocky gullies and the stiff breeze spared us the ‘experience’ of the unmistakable aroma of a seabird colony 🙂

Landing on Inner Farne we walked along the boardwalk, where the Arctic Terns were less aggressive than just a week earlier, tern chicks were starting to extend and flap their still developing wings, Black-headed Gulls were mobbing Puffins as they tried to get back to their burrows, and the pufflings waiting inside, Common and Sandwich Terns kept themselves to themselves (something we should all be grateful for, particularly in the case of Sandwich Tern!) and I mentioned that halfway along one stretch of boardwalk there would probably be an Arctic Tern that would approach you but not attack, and would adopt your head as perch if you stood still. Sure enough, the tern behaved just as predicted and landed on Jan’s head 🙂

After the short journey back to the mainland we headed back down the coast with a brief stop to admire an Avocet close to the road 🙂

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About tern :-) Farne Islands Safari 20/06/19

by on Jun.21, 2019, under Farne Islands

Yesterday was an opportunity to head to ‘the Galapagos of the North‘ and I collected Ruth D from Newbiggin then Ruth S and Margaret from Seahouses before heading a few miles down the coast for a morning walk to the Long Nanny…

With brilliantly coloured Common Blue butterflies, some very worn Painted Ladies and a Cinnabar moth in the middle of the track, the dunes were a stunning carpet of Bloody Cranesbill, studded with Pyramidal and Northern Marsh Orchids. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were song-flighting and with the breeze carrying sound out to sea, we were almost at the tern colony before we heard them. Little Terns were sitting quietly on the sand and Arctic Terns were feeding chicks just a few metres away from us. As each adult tern arrived with food, every chick it passed over raised a wide-open beak in hope of being fed 😉

After a picnic lunch on the beach (“winning at life” in the words of Ruth S), it was time to head to Seahouses and board Glad Tidings III for the sailing to Inner Farne. I first did that trip with Sarah while were students at Newcastle Uni in the late 90’s, and there’s still the same sense of wonder as you leave the harbour with it’s creches of Eider and head the short distance to the islands…

First there’s an occasional Guillemot or Puffin sitting on the sea or flying past. Within a few minutes there are rafts of auks on the water and the air is filled with lines of Puffin, Razorbill and Guillemot returning from foraging trips, or heading out to sea, as Kittiwakes shriek their name from precipitous cliff ledges, Gannets soar by effortlessly, Grey Seals laze on the rocks and the smell, the indescribable smell of a colony of seabirds that have an almost entirely fish-based diet, hits you for the first time 😉

Once your visual, auditory and olfactory senses have all been given a good hammering it’s time for the final assault. Sandwich and Common Terns are relatively peaceful, Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Shags are apparently indifferent to humans standing just a few feet way from their nest sites, Black-headed Gulls reserve their menace for kletoparasitism of the island’s Puffins who have become rather adept at flying straight into burrow entrances and the Puffins themselves wander across the boardwalk in front of you or poke their heads out of burrows and have a look at you as you walk past.

Arctic Terns though, they’re a different kettle of fish-eating aggression altogether. Occasionally you’ll get a loud chattering warning, some of them will jab at your hands from fence-post perches if you’re getting too close to the edge of the boardwalk or if you have the temerity to lift a camera to take a photograph of them and some will just decide to perch on your head, giving themselves a ‘king of the castle’ view of their nest. Then there are the ones that relentlessly swoop and peck at your head/hat/ears/sunglasses. Wear a hat and keep moving 🙂

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