Tag: marine conservation zones

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 ūüôā¬† 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā¬† 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 ūüôā

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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Hopes for 2012

by on Dec.31, 2011, under Birdwatching, Family and friends, Northumberland

In no particular order of priority, here a few things we’d love to see happening in 2012;

1) An increase in the English breeding population of Hen Harriers.¬† One of the most contentious wildlife issues we have – but perhaps 2012 will see, at least, the beginning of the abandonment of entrenched attitudes and finally some¬†positive news for the ‘grey males and ringtails’.

2) The stunning cetaceans that spend time in our offshore waters being able to go about their business without suffereing unnecessary¬†disturbance.¬† There are some excellent codes of conduct for cetacean watching and NEWT use these to inform and plan¬†our offshore activities, and to advise the skippers and boat owners who we work with.¬† Martin will continue to raise issues of cetacean disturbance at meetings of the PAW Marine Wildlife Enforcement Working Group, but hopes that won’t be too often.

3) The continued excellent promotion of Northumberland as a holiday destination.¬† Our county really is beautiful and you can ‘get away from it all’ without having to try too hard.¬† Whatever your interests – birdwatching, wildlife, photography, history and¬†culture are just a few examples where the county excels – you’ll find something that will make you come back again and again.

4) The¬†recognition by the Government that all 127¬†recommended Marine Conservation Zones (rMCZ’s)¬†need to be designated in order to achieve a coherent ecological network that will protect our seas for everyone and for the future.

5) Health, wealth and happiness for our family, friends and clients ūüôā

Happy New Year everyone ūüôā

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Marine Conservation Zones

by on Nov.30, 2011, under North Sea, Northumberland

Last week I had an interesting day in Peterborough, meeting with Natural England and stakeholders from all of the Marine Conservation Zone Projects.  We were there to discuss the protocols that Natural England will use to assess the recommendations from the regional projects, but it was clear that there is great concern across all sectors about how decisions will be made on the designations.

In total there are 127 rMCZ’s (recommended Marine Conservation Zones) and it’s certain that not all will be designated initially.¬† The Wildlife Trusts have a Marine Conservation Zones page on their website, and we’d urge everyone reading our blog to take a look at that page and¬†write to Richard Benyon MP, Parliament Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries, to add your voice to the call for all 127 rMCZ’s to be designated so that we have an ecologically-coherent network of MCZ’s.¬† Only that way will we be conserving the marine environment for future generations, for our fishing industry and for the wildlife that depends on a clean, healthy marine environment.¬† We’ve linked to this video before, but it really does give an example of the beauty that exists offshore from Northumberland.¬† It was a great privilege, and a quite moving experience,¬†to take this video.¬† Lots of our clients enjoyed superb views of White-beaked Dolphins this year, and we want future generations to enjoy these experiences as well.

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Frenetic Friday

by on Oct.23, 2010, under Choppington Woods, Farne Islands, North Sea, Northumberland

Yesterday involved a real mixture of my favourite places, and a wide range of activities.

Starting just after 07:00 I checked the 12 Longworth traps that we set on pre-bait in Choppington Woods¬†earlier in the week.¬† With 9 of the 12 having been emptied of food, the small mammals we’re interested in had obviously found the bait.¬† The one slight problem was that initially I could only find 11 traps!¬† Despite having a GPS location for each, and¬†marking adjacent vegetation with tags, it took 20 minutes to locate one of them.¬† Veronica Carnell, who is supervising me while I gain sufficient experience to run a trapping programme on my own, had warned me that this would happen ūüôā

Then I had a short drive across to Blyth for the second day of the Netgain regional hub meeting.¬† It’s been incredibly educational to listen to the views and concerns of other stakeholders, who don’t necessarily approach things from a conservation point of view.¬† Equally, it was impressive to see such wide and varied viewpoints coalescing into a concensus by the end of the meeting.¬† Although I have an interest in the project from a nature tourism angle, my main input was on the distribution and seasonality of cetaceans and seabirds off the Northumberland coast.¬† The protection of the marine habitat is so important to us that, as a business, we’ll keep making my time available for Netgain meetings until the conclusion of the project.

After the meeting I drove to Seahouses and collected¬†a journalist¬†from the Edinburgh Evening News, for a trip across to the Farne Islands.¬† We occasionally run press trips where the journalist will be accompanied by wife/husband/partner, but 2 adults, a 6-year old, a 3-year old and a baby was pretty much a first (apart from a guy from a local paper in Cumbria who managed to blag a free holiday, for himself and his family, from accommodation providers, activity providers and attractions in Northumberland in 2008…and then never wrote the article that was used as the hook for getting all the freebies – ah well, live and learn).¬† The trip across to the Farnes was everything I would expect in late October; breezy, cold and a fantastic wildlife experience.¬† The Grey Seal pups were predictably cute, and at least 3 Peregrines were hunting the Feral Pigeons that live¬†on the islands.¬† We’ve got a Seal Safari next Friday, which includes a trip around the Farne Islands (weather permitting), a Landrover safari and picnic so give us a call on 01670 827465 for more details or to book (especially¬†if you are a family – it’s 1/2 term week so we’re offering generous discounts on family bookings).¬† With 5 trips out with clients over the next¬†5 days (including 2 days where we’re fully booked already) it’s going to be¬† a busy week.

All of that would have a been a busy day…but there was one thing left, and it was something that I was really looking forward to.¬† As Newcastle University graduates, myself and Sarah both have an emotional attachment to the Hancock Museum (or Great North Museum:Hancock as it’s now named…but you won’t find either of us, or many other local naturalists, calling it that).¬† So, yesterday evening I felt quite honoured to be standing in the Clore Learning Centre at the museum giving a lecture about the Northeast Cetacean Project to the Natural History Society of Northumbria.¬† With an attendance of over 100 at the lecture it’s a subject that people are really interested by.¬† One of the question asked at the end of the talk was “how will the data be used?¬† what value does it have?”.¬† Which took us nicely back round the loop to the day and a half of Netgain meetings.

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