Thursday, 31 December 2009

Scouring the seas

A major project for NEWT this winter is an offshore survey, primarily to search for White-beaked Dolphins, covering most of Northumberland's waters out to a distance of 20-35 miles (depending which sector we're surveying on any given day). As it's incredibly weather-dependent we're running the surveys at fairly short notice (we're usually confident enough to arrange the boat and the survey team 3-4 days in advance of sailing).

We've got a few spaces available for passengers on each survey, which are available at very low cost, so give us a call on 01670 827465 if you think you might enjoy a 7 hour pelagic into the unknown at some point in the next 6 weeks.

Best wishes for the New Year :-)

Friday, 4 December 2009

Tracking the leviathan

I had a call yesterday evening from Andy Tait, cetacean-watcher, videographer and NEWT pelagic guide. He'd had an e-mail from a cetacean researcher in Aberdeen, also cc'd to one of the country's top cetacean experts, asking the question "minke - seen this id'able character?"

Imagine Andy's surprise when the link he'd been sent was the one to the gallery on the NEWT website...

Here's one of the images;

That distinctive notch in the dorsal fin should mean that there's a good chance of the animal being located elsewhere. In fact I've seen an image of a minke, taken in the Hebrides in May 2008 (4 months prior to the image above), which is almost certainly the same animal. Which is interesting because it proves that there is movement of Minke Whales between the well-studied population in the Hebrides and the ones that we find off Northumberland in mid-late Summer.

The funny thing is that Andy was standing next to me when I took that photo, so he has seen this character. We've got this animal at two different locations, and we know the maximum length of time it took to travel between them. Hopefully more images will come to light and we'll have an even better picture of where this whale goes, and when.

With increasing interest in offshore wildlife trips there could well be more instances of photo 're-captures', and the potential for anyone on a pelagic trip with a camera to contribute to our knowledge of the distribution and movements of our cetaceans.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Some excitement

Once a month we walk from Cresswell to East Chevington, counting waders, wildfowl and other waterbirds as part of the WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey). Yesterday was a warm, sunny morning with a stiff northwesterly breeze, so not bad for walking. As we scanned the sea off Druridge we found;

Minke Whale 1

which was moving quickly north, in the general direction of Coquet Island.

Monday, 5 October 2009

When you're feeding on scraps...

Not much, but it was a cetacean;

Church Point, Newbiggin by the Sea, 04/10/09 17:25-18:55

Harbour Porpoise 1

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Recent reports

Friday 18th September, 6-7 Bottlenose Dolphins off Holy Island

Saturday 19th September, Humpback Whale 2 miles E of Newton by the Sea - it's still out there!

The Humpback Whale was found at 11:45 by a very surprised lobster fisherman. Well, you would be surprised if a 12m cetacean that you weren't aware of suddenly breached next to your boat! John Dawson on Glad Tidings V set out from Seahouses to search for it, but it had moved away by the time they arrived off Newton. Several hours of searching didn't reveal it's location. Surely the same animal seen off Longstone on Sunday 13th.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The porpoise of seawatching

On a 4-hr seawatch yesterday afternoon/evening, at least 4 Harbour Porpoises were just offshore at Church Point, Newbiggin

Monday, 14 September 2009

NEWT Pelagic 12/09/09

Despite excellent viewing conditions, and the finest weather you could wish for on a pelagic, the whales and dolphins evaded us. We covered a lot of sea, from Dunstanburgh in the south to Holy Island in the north, but there was a distinct lack of flukes and fins. With some of the finest, and most experienced, cetacean watchers in the Northeast on board, we would have spotted any cetaceans that were around.

Atlantic Grey Seals were everywhere as far as the eye could see, Gannets were flying by (but not really showing any interest in feeding) and we had a couple of Red-throated Divers and a very obliging Arctic Skua. Eventually we did find some cetaceans; Harbour Porpoises. Although they're generally not keen on boats we had excellent views of one that surfaced within 20ft of the boat and then swam across the wake. Still too fast for my camera though!

We've booked the boat for the same Saturday next year, and we're taking advance bookings already so give us a call on 01670 827465 to reserve your place.

Friday, 11 September 2009

NEWT Whale and Dolphin Cruise

No, not a cruise in search of newts, whales and dolphins (how esoteric would that be?) but a Whale, Dolphin and Birdwatching Cruise from Seahouses at 10:00 tomorrow (Saturday 12th September). Organised by Northern Experience Wildlife Tours in association with Billy Shiel MBE, we will sail into the offshore waters of North Northumberland in search of cetaceans and seabirds.

Places are selling well, but there are still some remaining (£30/adult, £20/child) so call Martin on 01670 827465 to book your place.

With Minke Whale, White-beaked Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise all real possibilities it's one not to miss.

Weather will be glorious, winds will be light, and things are looking promising...

Recent sighting

Harbour Porpoise (1) off Cresswell 10/09/09 (Andy Tait)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Here they come...

Cetacean reports today;

2 Minke Whales, several Harbour Porpoises and a pod of dolphin sp, south past Snab Point at lunchtime (D Dack/A Gilbertson)

10-15 Bottlenose Dolphins, from angling boat 10 miles E of Cresswell (A Skinner)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

An evening watch

With the forecast heavy rain nowhere to be seen (not like the Met Office to get it wrong...) I decided to spend an hour at Church Point this evening. The sea was very calm and there wasn't a breath of wind. Viewing conditions were ideal for cetacean watching though and the hour produced;

Harbour Porpoise 2
Bottlenose Dolphin 1

White-beaked Dolphins

Mid-July is always a time when expectations for the forthcoming cetacean season are growing. With a pod of 20-30 dolphins off Sunderland and Tynemouth last Friday, which seem very likely to have been White-beaked, I thought I'd post a video clip from Andy Tait/Northern Experience, from a pelagic I organised in 2005, showing how close they sometimes get to our boat. We counted at least 15 animals on this trip, including one juvenile. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Welcome to Northeast Cetaceans

I've created this blog to allow observers to share cetacean sightings around the coast of northeast England. Anyone who wants to be an author of this blog is invited to contact me and I'll add you to the list so you can post your own sightings. As well as up to date info, we'll be posting images and video from some of the cetacean and birdwatching pelagics we've enjoyed over the last 11 years.