Tag: Puffins

Contrast and compare

by on Apr.19, 2011, under Bamburgh Castle, Choppington Woods, Northumberland, Photography, Southeast Northumberland

Sunday and Monday illustrated the range of things that NEWT do on a regular basis.

Sunday saw me leaving the office at 03:30 and driving to Alnwick.  Highlight of the drive was a Barn Owl, hunting alongside the A1 near Eshott.  After collecting Helen and Steve, two of our returning clients, we headed to Bamburgh, and a rendezvous with the sunrise.  Landscape photography tuition was first on the menu, followed by some macro photography around the rock pools at low tide.  All the while, the crowds were building further along the beach in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, enjoying views of the Black Scoter just offshore.  Once the sun was well above the horizon, and the shadows were getting too harsh, it was time to drive back to Alnwick.

A walk around Choppington Woods in the afternoon produced plenty of butterflies, Small White, Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma, and the unexpected patch tick of Hooded Crow.  We weren’t finished yet though, and  an evening excursion in southeast Northumberland produced excellent views of 2 of our favourites; Tawny Owl and Badger.

Yesterday morning, the day dawned overcast and calm; ideal for our latest Northeast Cetacean Project Transect Survey.  I met up with Maeve, Claire, Rachael and Steve at Royal Quays and we set out on just about the flattest sea I’ve ever seen.  Even 4 miles offshore it was glassy calm.  Cetacean sightings were down compared to the February/March surveys, with a pod of 4 Harbour Porpoises being the only sighting of the day.  Avian highlights were our first Manx Shearwater  and Pomarine Skua for the year, and lots of Puffins throughout the day.

Now it’s Tuesday morning and I’m getting ready for 9 tours with clients in the next 11 days.  Hopefully I’ll find time to blog…

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Masters of all we survey?

by on Dec.13, 2009, under Birdwatching, Druridge Bay, Northumberland

I’ve just finished my 3rd consecutive day of survey work (ok, today was just a couple of hours around dawn, but you get the idea).

Friday and Saturday saw me up to 20 miles offshore, leading a survey team of Alan Tilmouth, Ross Ahmed, Allan Skinner (our boat skipper) and Jimmy (erstwhile SarahJFK crew member and very diligent data-recorder).  Friday didn’t look promising as we drove to Royal Quays in thick fog, and the marina was mired in the gloom as well as we met up with Tom Brereton from Marinelife.  However, once out of the Tyne we quickly passed out of the fog bank and into some stunning weather.

Martin and Tom scanning for cetaceans

Martin and Tom scanning for cetaceans

Ross, Alan and Tom observing and recording seabird distribution and abundance

Ross, Alan and Tom observing and recording seabird distribution and abundance

 On the return there was a superb sunset but the fog had extended to almost 6 miles offshore and we had one of those real pelagic experiences.
Tom scanning ahead of the SarahJFK for cetaceans

Tom scanning ahead of the SarahJFK for cetaceans

Ross still recording, Alan looking cheerful as we approach a fog bank

Ross and Alan still recording as we approach the fog bank that ended Friday's survey

Tom, Martin, Ross and Alan heading home

Tom, Martin, Ross and Alan heading home

Yesterday had overall better visibility but slighty lumpier seas, as we covered the area from Blyth to Druridge Bay.  Having completed about 80 miles of transect surveys in 2 days we’ve already gathered a lot of seabird data.  The North Sea (which is relatively small) seems pretty big when you’re far enough offshore to not be able to see any land.  When 3 experienced seawatchers look around and say “we don’t really have a clue what’s out here do we?” then it hammers home the importance of what we’re doing.  Having found Puffins on both surveys so far, and five Little Gulls on Saturday, we’re all eagerly anticipating the rest of our winter surveys.  We’ve got a few spaces on most of the survey trips (which will run when the weather allows us the opportunity) which are available for a contribution of £20/person/trip (a much lower rate than our commercial pelagics trips in July-September).  Give us a call, wrap up warm and join us on a journey into the unknown.

On dry (well, drier) land, Sarah and myself set out this morning for the December Icelandic Goose Census.Two Barn Owls were a bonus in the bone-chilling temperatures.  Last month I drew a blank with our goose monitoring and this month was hardly any better; just 3 Greylag Geese at the roost site that is designated as part of the census.  Looks like we’ll be out again at dusk, trying to locate the birds as they fly to roost.

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And we’ve also…

by on Aug.26, 2008, under Wildlife

Had several very successful tours with clients. August 11th saw us venturing across to the Farne Islands on one of our Seal Safaris, excellent views of the Grey Seals were had by all, as well as brief views of two adult Puffins flying by and a Puffin chick that had only recently entered the water. The Cheviots were a little damp on August 18th but a break in the rain produced Peregrine, Merlin, Buzzard, no less than six Black Grouse and a Hare. August 19th saw us visiting the Grey Seals on the Farne Islands again before heading up the coast and across onto Holy Island to search for more seals and wading birds, then back down the coast as far as Amble. 20th involved an early start (for some…) and a walk along the Blyth. Heavy overnight rain had left the river as a raging torrent the colour of milky coffee and the highlight of the morning was a Red Squirrel making it’s way through the trees on the opposite bank of the river as Jays screamed at us from their hidden vantage points. Druridge Bay trip later the same day and we were treated to large roosts of Lapwing and Oystercatcher as well as a mystery mammal running across the roof of the hide we were sitting in at Hauxley. By the time we raced outside it had disappeared into the trees…
August 21st and we were back in Druridge Bay. Highlights were a Common Toad that was walking up the path ahead of us, Noctule Bat flying past (and picked up later on our bat detector) and, due to the incredibly clear sky, excellent views of Jupiter and it’s moons through the telescope – leading to an impromptu astronomy extension to our evening.

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