Tag: Bottlenose Dolphin

Finale; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 14/09/19

by on Oct.03, 2019, under Bottlenose Dolphin, North Sea, White-beaked Dolphin

After two cancellations due to pretty awful conditions offshore, our final 10hr Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic for 2019 survived the weather and fittingly, given recent changes in cetacean distribution off our coast, was topped and tailed by Bottlenose Dolphins around the mouth of the Tyne with White-beaked Dolphins in the Farne Deeps sandwiched between the start and end of the day…

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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A cracking start, and 1000-up :-) NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 28/06/19

by on Jul.02, 2019, under North Sea

Incredibly this is our 1000th blog post, and it coincides with our first pelagic trip of 2019

We’d been watching reports on the North East Cetacean Project Facebook group through the day so we knew there’d been dolphins at the mouth of the Tyne most of the afternoon, and Allan had seen them at 16.30 on his way back in from an angling trip.

We weren’t even out of the mouth of the river when the first breaching Bottlenose Dolphins could be seen just north of the piers ๐Ÿ™‚

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Back to sea; NECP Transect Survey 25/02/19

by on Feb.27, 2019, under Bottlenose Dolphin

As many of our regular readers may already know, I was diagnosed with a rare and progressive illness last year and had surgery at the start of January to alleviate the worst of the symptoms. One of the most frustrating things, as well as having to have a couple of months break from NEWT safaris, has been having to stay onshore and not do any survey work for the North East Cetacean Project. Monday was the first time in months that I’ve felt well enough to consider spending a day at sea so I left the house as a beautiful sunrise was developing and drove to Whitley Bay to collect Andy. We met up with Caroline at Royal Quays and then on to the St Aidan.

Once we were out of the Tyne it was obvious that conditions were as good as we’d thought they’d be. Heading north we had four sightings of Harbour Porpoise, although they were all typically shy, and as were about to have lunch a loud shout of “dolphins” from Andy heralded the arrival of 40-50 Bottlenose Dolphins that stayed around the boat for 45mins ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s good to be back ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bottlenose Dolphins [Tursiops truncatus] off Dunstanburgh, Northumberland 25/02/19
Bottlenose Dolphins [Tursiops truncatus] off Dunstanburgh, Northumberland 25/02/19
Bottlenose Dolphins [Tursiops truncatus] off Dunstanburgh, Northumberland 25/02/19
Bottlenose Dolphins [Tursiops truncatus] off Dunstanburgh, Northumberland 25/02/19
Bottlenose Dolphins [Tursiops truncatus] off Dunstanburgh, Northumberland 25/02/19
Bottlenose Dolphins [Tursiops truncatus] off Dunstanburgh, Northumberland 25/02/19
Bottlenose Dolphins [Tursiops truncatus] off Dunstanburgh, Northumberland 25/02/19
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NEWT’s Guide to Bottlenose Dolphins in Northumberland

by on Aug.06, 2018, under Bottlenose Dolphin, North Sea

A lot of our clients are very familiar with Northumberland’s marine wildlife so the question “Where have these Bottlenose Dolphins come from? I can’t remember them being here until the last few years.” is a regular one…

Until 2012 Bottlenose Dolphin was a rare animal in Northumberland waters and when I was researching/writing the cetacean species accounts for ‘Mammals, Amphibians and Reptiles of the North East’ there had only been 11 sightings of 10 or more animals since the first Northumberland record in 1966.

21st October 2012 was the day that everything began to change, with a loose group of ~150 dolphins moving down the coast from Berwick to Newbiggin before vanishing. Small groups broke away and took a liking to Holy Island and Bamburgh, with the group off Bamburgh hanging around through the winter and riding the waves alongside human surfers!

With small groups becoming regular from 2013 we were involved in trying to identify individual animals from photographs by comparing them to the excellent photo-identification catalogue developed by Aberdeen University. That’s when we noticed an interesting pattern – the animals we were seeing were mainly females that were already adults when they were photographed in the Moray Firth in the late 1980’s and had gradually departed the Moray Firth for a life further down the east coast of Scotland around the Firth and the Tay. In the case of the most distinctive dolphin we’ve seen, #116 ‘Runny Paint’ – the dolphin with the extraordinary white stripe along the base of her dorsal fin on the right hand side and four dashes on the left hand side – she’d left Moray in 2001. The ‘proto-colonisation’ of Northumberland seems to have been led by some elderly ladies

Over the last few years there have been increasing sightings of the dolphins, which now seem to have an extended home range, primarily from the Tay to the Wear but extending as far as Moray and the Yorkshire coast, and it seems likely that there are now calves that have been born in English waters. We don’t know how many dolphins are involved in total, with observer estimates often varying wildly even for a single group, but somewhere between 50-150 is probably in the right ballpark

We’ve seen them on land-based trips, boat trips to the Farne Islands and, of course, on our regular pelagic trips off the Northumberland coast and there’s no doubt that they’re a spectacular addition to Northumberland’s marine fauna but that might not be good news for some of our other cetaceans…

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Bottlenose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

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Dolphins; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 29/06/18

by on Jul.02, 2018, under North Sea

Our second 4hr evening pelagic of 2018 came a couple of days after our first – which had been a trip with more swell than expected and only a single sighting of a Bottlenose Dolphin that didn’t hang around to be admired by all on board…

Friday’s forecast was much better though and I knew that a group of around 12 dolphins had been seen off Newbiggin mid-afternoon.ย  As we sailed out of the Tyne I checked my messages, and discovered that the dolphins were making their way south down the coast so we were likely to encounter them somewhere off Whitley Bay.ย  Eventually we had around 25-30 Bottlenose Dolphins playing around the boat, including some that were catching fish and a few small groups with very young calves ๐Ÿ™‚

We’ve got spaces still available on our 4hr sailings each Wednesday until August 8th and on our 10hr ‘Northumberland Ultimate Pelagic‘ sailings on 15th, 19th and 22nd September.ย  Give us a call on 01670 827465 to book your place before they’re all filled!

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

Bottlnose Dolphins spent over an hour playing around the boat on our 4hr evening pelagic off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 29/06/18

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Yes, this really is southeast Northumberland ;-) Otter Safari 18/05/18

by on May.19, 2018, under Druridge Bay, Otter

In warm but breezy weather I collected Baird and Margaret, and then Jacqui, Paul, Chris and Louise ahead of an afternoon and evening around southeast Northumberland and Druridge Bay searching for Otters

Starting with a woodland walk we could hear Blackbird, Blackcap, Robin, Wren, Woodpigeon, Chiffchaff and Chaffinch all singing but the only movement in the rocky streams was gurgling water. Black-headed Gulls were swarming over the wider rivers, mopping up an obviously substantial hatch of flying insects, and Cormorants were doing their best to impersonate Otters.ย  Our picnic stop overlooking the North Sea brought a fantastic wildlife experience; with everyone else enjoying soup, sandwich and carrot cake I was scanning the sea.ย  Common Eider, Guillemot and Razorbill were all rafting as Gannets headed north and then I spotted the concentrated activity of a flock of gulls.ย  Focusing on the sea below them I soon spotted a couple of dorsal fins breaking the surface…and we had nearly an hour with 9 Bottlenose Dolphins porpoising, breaching, feeding and generally being very entertaining right in front of us ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Tufted Duck, Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall and Great Crested Grebe all looked stunning in low angled sunlight as Lapwings displayed with their bizarre other-worldly calls and, as the Sun sank towards the northwest a Barn Owl flew across the road ahead of us.

Under a beautiful waxing crescent Moon alongside Venus in the west, and Arcturus and Jupiter visible in the twilight to the southeast, with the giant planet stunning through our telescope, the Swallows, Swifts, House Martins and Sand Martins were replaced overhead by Noctule and pipistrelle bats as dozens and dozens of Black-headed Gulls continued feasting on flying insects and a Roe Deer was in the reeds opposite us.ย  Tufted Ducks, Mallards, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese were looking agitated and one flock of gulls seemed to be whirling in a dense tight circle over a narrow bay in the reeds before gradually drifting along still following the reed edge…and the Otter that was stealthily making it’s way around the pool ๐Ÿ™‚ย  We watched it for a few minutes before it surfaced right in front of an adult Mute Swan and decided it was time to beat a hasty retreat into the reeds.

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…and more dolphins; Farne Islands Safari 15/07/17

by on Jul.17, 2017, under Farne Islands

I’d collected Alice and Jonathan from Waren Mill and headed south along the coast at the start of our Farne Islands safari.ย  A dreich drizzly morning still produced Little and Arctic Terns, Meadow Pipit and Skylark and, after lunch we we driving between Bamburgh and Seahouses when Jonathan spotted dolphins between the mainland and the islands.ย  The journey around the islands and landing on Inner Farne produced all of the usual suspects; Grey Seal, Gannet, Shag, Cormorant, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns and the entertaining sight of lots of Arctic Tern chicks sitting in the middle of the boardwalk.

The journey back to Seahouses brought probably the best wildlife of the day though, as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins played around the boats that were heading to and from the harbour ๐Ÿ™‚

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

Our Farne Islands safari on Saturday 15th July produced a spectacular and unexpected ending as a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins appeared around the boat

We’ve finished our Farne Islands trips for this year, but we’ve still got plenty of opportunities to encounter dolphins on our 4hr and 10hr pelagic wildlife trips.ย  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more details or to book your place now ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lazy days; Otter Safari 25/05/17

by on May.26, 2017, under Druridge Bay, Southeast Northumberland

I’m meticulous about checking the car before a day out with NEWT’s clients.ย  Oil, air, water, screen wash, tyre pressures.. All checked and adjusted as necessary, at least one hour before I set off from the office.ย  I went through that routine yesterday, before heading to Newbiggin to collect Carl and Joanne for an afternoon and evening around Druridge Bay and southeast Northumberland.

All was fine…until I was less than 100m from our drive and the car suffered a puncture ๐Ÿ™ย  Luckily the fantastic Stakeford Tyre Services is between our house and Newbiggin and the car was soon sporting a new tyre and we were underway…only to be hit from behind by another car just a couple of minutes after we’d left Newbiggin ๐Ÿ™ย  I couldn’t see any damage to the back of our car so we headed on.ย  Orange-tip and Green-veined White butterflies were busy in the warm sunshine, Mallard and Shelduck were shepherding ducklings, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow and Swift were harvesting a dense hatch of flying insects and Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Reed Warbler and Whitethroat were singing from hidden perches.

Our picnic spot was beside a rock pool, with the warm sunshine, flat calm blue sea and lack of people on the beach giving it almost an ‘island feel’ as a dense flock of Herrring Gull and Gannet wheeled around offshore.ย  Then all of the birds started circling with intent…and below them were 4 Bottlenose Dolphins ๐Ÿ™‚ย  After the dolphins moved around the headland and out of sight we continued on our way.ย  It’s May but the evening light is still sublime, and the sunshine picked out Mute Swans and Grey Heron against the subtle hues of everything else around as the peace and quiet was disturbed briefly by an altercation between a Coot and a Moorhen.ย  Towards dusk a Roe Deer was in a distant field and as we headed back towards Newbiggin a Barn Owl flew across the road ahead of us ๐Ÿ™‚

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Whale Tales of the North Sea 25/03/17

by on Mar.27, 2017, under North Sea

Following an invitation from DFDS, I arrived at the Royal Quays passenger terminal on Saturday morning for the ‘Whale Tales of the North Sea’ event, celebrating 10 years of DFDS and the charity ORCA working together.

I spend part of my time working for MARINElife, but I’ve also been an ORCA member for nearly two decades and NEWT’s involvement with them goes back to 2010. when I led a familiarisation trip for the wildlife officers ahead of their season onboard.ย  Our own Whale and Dolphin trips during the summer usually pass by one of the Newcastle-IJmuiden ferries, either as we sail out of the Tyne, or return at the end of the day, and the NEWT team enjoyed a mini-cruise to Holland in 2010 as guests of DFDS.ย  We’d highly recommend it ๐Ÿ™‚

Following a packed lunch, Michaela Strachan presented a series of short clips of some of her experiences with whales and dolphins around the world, which kept all of the younger members of the audience entertained.ย  With only ~90 different species, cetaceans are poorly represented compared to terrestrial mammals (~4200 species), birds (~10000 species) and insects (~1000000 species, with potentially another 5-29000000 million species still to be discovered!).ย  What they lack in numbers they make up for in sheer size, and some of the film clips demonstrated just how big they are.

Anna Bunney from ORCA gave a presentation about the cetaceans of the North Sea and there we have an even smaller range of species.ย  Harbour Porpoise, Bottlenose Dolphin, White-beaked Dolphin and Minke Whale are all relatively common, but there’s a range of rarer visitors to the waters of North East England; Risso’s Dolphin, White-sided Dolphin, Killer Whale, Sperm Whale, Pilot Whale and Humpback Whale have all appeared in recent years and historical records contain some real oddities.

Educating people about the wealth of marine wildlife in the North Sea is something that ORCA and DFDS are doing really well, and the data that surveyors are gathering onboard is a valuable resource, combined with the ferry data gathered by MARINElife on other North Sea routes and the small-boat survey data from the North East Cetacean Project in Northumberland.

Many thanks to DFDS for the invitation to join them for the celebration with ORCA ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re not already convinced that our marine wildlife is awesome, here are a few pictures that should speak for themselves ๐Ÿ™‚

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