Tag: Northern Experience

Pretty in Pink

by on May.16, 2010, under Family and friends

No, not a homage to the Molly Ringwald film , or the Psychedelic Furs track that inspired it, but the latest step in Sarah and Kirsty’s training plan.

With showers forecast for this morning it looked as though the Cancer Research UK Race for Life in Gateshead could be a bit damp.  As it turned out, the rain didn’t start until well after the girls had finished the race.

They were pretty relaxed, but both quite excited as well, before the start.  I went along as sherpa to the Northern Experience/Swan at Choppington duo.

Colder than it looked!

Birdwatching interest was provided by a family of Mute Swans on the lake

Mute Swans with 7 cygnets

Participation in the pre-race warm-up was enthusiastic.

"Put your hands in the air if you're a runner rather than a jogger"

Faced with the option of runner/jogger/walker they opted for ‘runner’.  Despite both Sarah and Kirsty having been ill, and unable to train, for the last week they crossed the finish line after 33mins 1sec.

Nearly there 🙂

Then they had a well-deserved sit down (and some Jaffa Cakes).  The girls exceeded their fund-raising target and I think they should feel justifiably proud of their achievements; they completed the race in a good time and raised money for a good cause.

Now we’re on our way to The Swan for Sunday lunch.  I think they might be wearing their medals 🙂

Done it!

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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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