Sinister Pirates

The sky was a pale blue and cloudless. The air was still; the gentle movement of the sea made a southing lapping sound against the hull. What had been a disturbing swell the previous evening had turned into a flat calm and the climbing sun was getting hot.

We were on the edge of a ‘fall off’ in the middle of the North Sea; the western edge of the Dogger Bank. The Wildlife Tours and Education Seabird and Cetacean Pelagic was in progress. The upwelling current was pushing plankton and fish to the surface and there were things there exploiting the bonanza. Grey Seals 70 miles out to sea, a steady procession of Gannets diving and the odd Auk bringing an occasional Sand Eel to the surface were all seen.

The icing on the cake for avian fans was an adult Sabine’s Gull that slowly drifted over the boat to settle in our wake among the Fulmars … a Blue Fulmar among them. Minke Whales and Harbour Porpoise came later on our return journey.

Perhaps personally the best part of the trip for me was the close encounters with the Arctic and Great Skua’s. These are true pirates of the sea that came floating over us as they fed on our ‘chum trail’; elegant yet sinister birds.


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August 2012
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