Tag: Manx Shearwater

Out of the gloom; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 13/07/2015

by on Jul.17, 2015, under North Sea

Our fourth North Sea Pelagic for 2015 had a reasonable weather forecast – overcast, but should have been otherwise ok…

Quite good visibility meant we were soon watching Manx Shearwater, Kittiwake, Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot, Puffin and Razorbill…then the rain started.  Sailing through what appeared to be low, and very wet, cloud we came out of the other side of it and continued north.  Then ahead of us, we could see weather that we really didn’t want to be sailing into.  We decided to turn back south and have a slow journey close inshore as the almost obligatory flock of Common Scoter flew by.  I suggested an area to Allan that I thought would hold White-beaked Dolphins towards dusk…and there they were 🙂

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,dolphin watching North Sea,North Sea Pelagics,dolphin watching Northumberland,dolphin watching England

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,dolphin watching North Sea,North Sea Pelagics,dolphin watching Northumberland,dolphin watching England

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,dolphin watching North Sea,North Sea Pelagics,dolphin watching Northumberland,dolphin watching England

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Tailwind/Headwind; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 10/07/2015

by on Jul.17, 2015, under North Sea

Heading north on the third of our 4hr evening North Sea Pelagics, the rate at which Gannets, Fulmars and Manx Shearwaters were passing by suggested that the wind was going to make the journey back south a slightly different proposition 😉  Puffin, Guillemot and Razorbill were sitting on the sea, but not in the numbers of the previous two sailings and, as we turned south, the journey home was into a stiff breeze with low glowering cloud that meant it was nearly dark not long after 9.  A dense flock of Common Scoter, tossed on the breeze, passed by in the gloom as we made our way back to port, and our thoughts turned to Monday and our next sailing.

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Spring arrivals; Druridge Bay Safari 30/04/2015

by on May.05, 2015, under Druridge Bay

It’s been a cold windy spring, and a few of our summer visitors seemed a bit tardy; we found our first Sand Martin and Chiffchaff later than we would have expected, but the day has been coming when things would start to happen…

I collected Jan and Peter from Church Point and we set out to spend the day exploring Druridge Bay.  It was, unsurprisingly, cold and very windy again but that didn’t impact on our day birdwatching.  Skylarks soared and sang, Marsh Harriers drifted over reedbeds and fields close to the coast and an impressive range of waders performed obligingly; Oystercatcher, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Avocet, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling and Black-tailed Godwit – the latter three species resplendent in breeding plumage – demonstrated why this is such a popular group of species with birdwatchers.  The godwit in particular stood out; clothed in chestnut and a vision of elegance to rival the Little Egret that was stalking along the water’s edge nearby.  Moorhen and Coot crept furtively along the edge of reedbeds, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit flicked their tails nervously at the tops of bushes in the dunes and an eye-catching fly-catching adult Little Gull was easily picked out from amongst Black-headed Gulls.  Seawatching over lunchtime is a regular feature of our Druridge Bay trips and Eider, Gannet, Manx Shearwater and Common Guillemot could all be seen offshore as Fulmars soared and arced along the clifftops a few metres way from us. Wheatears and a Whinchat flitted from tussock to tussock, strikingly beautiful as they always are at this time of the year, and then a sign that the summer is nearly here; hundreds of Sand Martins were flycatching above every pool on the coast as a group of six House Martins flew in, battling against the strengthening breeze with the imperative to head north driving them on.  Then, a Swift, and another, then six more.  Eight of these scythe-winged masters of the air flew by us, rocking from side-to-side into the wind as they headed to join the feast above the water.

I love those days when we concentrate on looking for a single species, but a day birdwatching with clients and just enjoying, and marvelling, at everything that comes along is pretty much as good as it gets for a birdwatching guide 🙂 As Jan and Peter headed across to Bellingham, and I took the shorter journey back to the office, I was wondering if perhaps the summer weather was on the way…

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In the gloom; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 19/07/2014

by on Aug.05, 2014, under North Sea, Northumberland

Puffins, Guillemots, Gannets, Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters and Kittiwakes came and went in the gloom of a strange eerie evening of long rolling swell, and thickening mist.

Black-legged Kittiwake,Rissa tridactyla,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,pelagic birdwatching

Black-legged Kittiwake,Rissa tridactyla,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,pelagic birdwatching

Black-legged Kittiwake,Rissa tridactyla,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,pelagic birdwatching

We’ve still got a few spaces on our Farne Deeps trips, which are our best trips for encountering White-beaked Dolphin and other marine mammals, on 12th and 28th August from Royal Quays, and our birdwatching-focused trips from Royal Quays on 23rd August, 6th September and 13th September.  Our Whale and Dolphin Cruise from Seahouses on 30th August is an excellent introduction to offshore wildlife for all the family too 🙂  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more details, or have a look at our North Sea pelagic page.

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Never mind the Balearics…

by on Oct.12, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea

…here’s the Bonxies.

Watching the weather forecast during the week, and having a day on Holy Island on Thursday with Malcolm (trip report to come soon!), convinced me that there was somewhere I needed to be at dawn on Friday.  Arriving at Church Point in the half-light there were a few cars already parked, and a wander along to the point with Mike H found the owners of those cars already intently scanning the angry-looking sea.  Andy McL, Tim C., Eric B., David D. and Jimmy S. were all clustered around the ‘seawatching hut’.

It would be good to be able to report that I’m thoroughly domesticated and house-trained and, after the few hours I’d planned to spend seawatching, I went home, via the supermarket to do the grocery shopping, and did all of the housework.  However, back in what Sarah refers to as ‘the world according to Martin’ that couple of hours to see if there was any movement of seabirds turned into a plan to stay until 12:00…then mid-afternoon…and finally, as the light faded to the point where you could hallucinate the sort of sightings that Ellington’s second best birdwatcher * was enjoying a few miles to the north of us, I gave up just after 18:00.  11 hours on Church Point, but a not-too-shabby day list;

Black Guillemot 1

Great Crested Grebe 1

Pale-bellied Brent Goose 20

Dark-bellied Brent Goose 2

Long-tailed Duck 4

Goldeneye 9

Velvet Scoter 15

Shoveler 24

Red-throated Diver 24

Black-throated Diver 3

Great Northern Diver 7

Manx Shearwater 53

Sooty Shearwater 62

Balearic Shearwater 2

Great Skua 261

Pomarine Skua 3

Long-tailed Skua 3

Arctic Skua 8

Red-breasted Merganser 7

Little Gull 3

Arctic Tern 1

‘blue’ Fulmar 12

Short-eared Owl 1

*Ellington’s best birdwatcher is, and it really goes without saying, Iain’s better half, Janet 🙂

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Whales and Dolphins; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 31/08/13

by on Sep.03, 2013, under Birdwatching, Grey Seal, MInke Whale, North Sea, Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

Our annual Whale and Dolphin Cruise on Glad Tidings V is one of the highlights of our North Sea Pelagic programme.  With over 40 people booked on to this year’s sailing, we were going to need to be organised and efficient getting everyone on to the boat – luckily I’m married to Sarah, so organisation and efficiency just seem to happen to me 🙂

Saturday was also the first day of our Whales, Waders and Wildfowl holiday, so I collected Bill from The Swan and we drove north, pausing in Amble to collect Ruth as we passed through.  Warm, sunny, windy and with plenty of whitecaps offshore were conditions that could make finding cetaceans tricky.  As we sailed south we came across a raft of Gannets, Sooty and Manx Shearwaters and plenty of Grey Seals ‘bottling’ amongst them.  There wasn’t any sort of feeding activity of note though, but eventually we managed brief views of a small group of Harbour Porpoise nearby.  Continuing on our way, there was a sighting of Minke Whale from the front of the boat…just as I watched a White-beaked Dolphin breaching away to the east 🙂  Eventually we had seven or eight dolphins around the boat, allowing everyone on board the opportunity to enjoy close views of our favourite cetacean.  As we made our way slowly back towards Seahouses, two more Minke Whales appeared and we’d struck gold, silver and bronze in one trip 🙂

Northern Gannet,Morus bassanus,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,whale watching, dolphin watching,whale watching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland

Northern Gannet,Morus bassanus,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,whale watching, dolphin watching,whale watching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland

Grey Seal,Halichoerus grypus,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,whale watching, dolphin watching,whale watching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,whale watching, dolphin watching,whale watching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea Pelagics,whale watching, dolphin watching,whale watching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland

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Deep water; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 14/08/2013

by on Aug.27, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland, White-beaked Dolphin

Probably my favourite pelagic of all of the North Sea pelagic trips that we run (although I enjoy all of them immensely!) is our 10hr Farne Deeps – Northumberland’s ‘Ultimate Pelagic’.  The forecast looked about as promising as it gets and I arrived at Royal Quays in good time, to discover that most of our participants were already there 🙂  This was just a day before I would be heading south to the British Birdwatching Fair and five of our participants would also be visiting Rutland over the coming weekend.

As we sailed north east we soon found our first cetaceans of the day, a small pod of Harbour Porpoise.  10 minutes later our progress northeast was slowed as we enjoyed prolonged views of a Minke Whale.  Continuing towards the Farne Deeps, a deep-water offshore area that I’ve been interested in since the late 1990’s and the North East Cetacean Project has been surveying since 2009, we encountered our first White-beaked Dolphins of the trip.  In an interesting rolling swell seabirds were passing by too; Fulmars, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, Great and Arctic Skuas and the occasional Puffin all attracted interest.  Small groups of White-beaked Dolphins were found in locations where we expected them before we headed further offshore to the area that we’ve shown to hold large aggregations of dolphins in the mid-late summer.  Almost exactly where we would expect them to be we found several dolphins breaching.  Others began bow-riding and soon there were groups of White-beaked Dolphins in every direction; tail-slapping, breaching, spy-hopping and just generally performing.  Eventually as many as 60 of these stunningly beautiful dolphins were in view and all of the photographers on board were busy filling their memory cards.  16 years of organising North Sea pelagic trips and they just get better every year 🙂

Minke Whale,Balaenoptera acutorostrata,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,whalewatching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland,www.northernexperiencepelagics.co.uk

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,whalewatching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland,whalewatching North Sea,dolphin watching North Sea,Farne Deeps,www.northernexperiencepelagics.co.uk

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,Farne Deeps,North Sea,Northumberland,North Sea pelagics,whalewatching North Sea,dolphin watching North Sea,whalewatching Northumberland,dolphin watching Northumberland,www.northernexperiencepelagics.co.uk

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Supporting cast; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 19/07/2013

by on Aug.06, 2013, under Birdwatching, Grey Seal, MInke Whale, North Sea, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, White-beaked Dolphin

In late July there are a few species that we’d be amazed to not find on a North Sea pelagic trip; Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Kittiwake, Fulmar and Gannet are all great birds to see, and are all part of the experience that is the North Sea in mid-summer.  There are other species that can overshadow the regular cast list though; Sooty Shearwater is a real ‘birders bird’, close views of any of the skuas grab the attention and, with seabirds covering such vast distances, there’s always the possibility of something completely unexpected.  But, for crowd-pleasing spectacular there’s little that can compete with our marine mammals.  Grey Seals often pop their heads up as we pass, but the real awe-inspiring species are whales and dolphinsOur previous pelagic had been illuminated by Minke Whales but on this trip we were confident of finding a different species.  Ten years of finding, studying, and mapping the distribution of, White-beaked Dolphins gives us a narrow target area to search in the third week in July…

As we headed north, a shout from Jimmy alerted everyone to the presence of a small pod of dolphins ahead of us.  Sure enough, the White-beaked Dolphins came across to investigate our boat and we soon had 12 of them around us 🙂  Once I was sure that everyone had seen them – which didn’t take too long! – I waited for them to surface alongside us so that I could take photographs of their dorsal fins.  Through a combination of NEWT pelagic trips and survey work for the North East Cetacean Project, we’ve built up a catalogue of individual White-beaked Dolphins off the Northumberland coast.  Having been the first pelagic tour operator to regularly find White-beaked Dolphins off the Northumberland coast, and the only one to have contributed to the Marine Conservation Zones project, we’re proud to have been involved in leading the way in groundbreaking research to map the distribution and abundance of White-beaked Dolphins. We’d like to thank all of our clients who’ve contributed, and continue to contribute, to the catalogue too 🙂

Of course, dolphin dorsal fin images aren’t the most exciting shots you can get, and the glassy calm water produced lots of other interesting possibilities…

White-beaked Dolphin,Lagenorhynchus albirostris,Northumberland,North Sea,North Sea pelagics,dolphin watching Northumberland,whale watching Northumberland

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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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Mirror calm; NEWT’s North Sea Pelagic 05/07/13

by on Jul.06, 2013, under Birdwatching, North Sea, Northumberland

The North Sea can be a strange place.  I’ve been out there in calm, sunny conditions, heavy rain, and I’ve carried out survey work for the North East Cetacean Project in conditions – dense fog, white-out blizzard, ‘interesting’ swell – where we wouldn’t have hesitated to cancel the trip if it was part of our North Sea Pelagics programme.  Yesterday was probably the oddest conditions I’ve seen though…

The northward stretch of our trip was in very calm sunny conditions that Mary likened to the Greek islands and Andy thought was reminiscent of a sheltered Scottish sea loch.  Gannets were soaring by, Puffins were bobbing about on the barely noticeable swell, small rafts of Guillemots weren’t doing very much at all and there didn’t seem to be a great deal of activity until we were just off Cresswell and amongst the flocks of gulls and terns.

Then, the journey south brought conditions that were just surreal.  First the sea began to flatten, until what little swell there had been was gone, and it was mirror calm.  Then a hazy mist developed and the reflection of the sky in the water meant that it was no longer possible to see where the sea ended and the sky began; all was a monochrome canvas in front of us – no visible horizon, just a flat grey sheet liberally washed with dense flocks of gullsFulmars and Manx Shearwaters were gliding by just above their own reflections, a flock of Common Scoter flew north just after a Red-throated Diver had passed by and a Harbour Porpoise betrayed the interface between air and water as it surfaced nearby.  As the deep red orb of the sun dipped below the horizon away to the north west, the temperature dropped dramatically and we sailed back into the Tyne.

All of our evening pelagics from North Shields are sold out (except for one place remaining on July 26th) but we still have a limited number of spaces on our Farne Deeps pelagics, our all day pelagics from Royal Quays in September and our Whale and Dolphin Cruise on August 31st.  Give us a call on 01670 827465 for more details, to check availability or to book 🙂

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