Archive for Jul, 2021


How to identify a Sei Whale

Since I published the post on visiting the Albatross in Yorkshire and the Sei whale in Scotland I’ve had a couple of conversations about how to recognize Sei Whale from other similar cetaceans. I did a composite photo with some tell tale detail for another social media site, so I’ve repeated it again here. I feel sure some Minke Whale sightings in the UK are in fact Sei Whales and perhaps this species is being overlooked and is not as rare here as we may suppose.

Minke is much smaller than Sei. So size is important but is so difficult to judge at sea. However, there are three other important differences that are easier to judge

1 The Blow – A Minke’s blow is rarely visible. Sei blow habitually.

2 The dorsal fin – A Sei whale has a scythe like fin on its back and although a Minke whale’s fin is similar it is never as ‘hooked’ as a Sei Whale.

3 The dive sequence – A Minke will bend in the water, arch over and ‘dive’. A Sei Whale will just ‘sink’ horizontally as shown by the progression of photos.

Oh! and while we’re talking ‘cetacean’ a reminder the Sea Watch Foundation National Whale and Dolphin Watch is in progress. Tania and I will be on the cliff just east of Weybourne car park on TUESDAY 27th JULY from 10am to 4pm if you care to join us at any time. The weather is forecast to be mixed so please bring wet weather clothing just in case.


Odds and Sods

A few photos from this spring and summer, taken on tours around the county and country, that I haven’t had time to post previously …


Brows and blows

After a busy few months Tania and I wanted to get away for a few days. So we made a plan. First stop Bempton to see the Black-browed Albatross. I’d seen the Sula Sgeir bird a decade or more ago but how could you say no to an Albatross in British waters. You just ‘have’ to go and see it. They are the bees knees of seabirds. A thought not shared by the Gannets who didn’t take to their larger cousin at all. He ousted a few off the cliffs to crash land among them. Tania had great views of the bird as she looked down on the bird circling below her.

First part of the plan completed we thought we’d carry on North and visit Kinghorn. Now this is the second time this year I’ve called at this pretty village just over the Forth from Edinburgh. I paid a visit at the end of May. The idea then was to see if the guests on the UK Mammal Tour could add Sei Whale to their lists. Despite it’s rarity in UK waters there had been one kicking around in the Firth of Forth for a few weeks. Sadly it wasn’t to be as the whale didn’t play ball. However, Tania and I thought it would be worth a revisit this week as the Sei Whale was still being seen with some regularity. It took some time, but eventually the third largest animal on the planet graced us with a ‘swim-past’. In fact two; once going up river and then a second as it returned East. Thanks to Ronnie Mackie for his invaluable help and great company in seeking out this addition to our British mammal list. The last time I saw one of these creatures it was amid the clear waters of a Chilean Fjord on the day Tania and I first met; a long way from a small seaside town on the East coast of Scotland.


New Life

New (sleepy) life on the marsh.


A speeding swift

For the second time this year I have managed to photograph an Alpine Swift in Norfolk last week. Thanks to friend Ben who found it among a flock of Common Swifts over the golf course in Cromer Tania and I braved the busy Cromer traffic to see it before it disappeared to the West around lunch time.

Flying high and fast it was never going to provide as good a subject photographically as the last individual but it was good to see it all the same. No doubt the swifts had been attracted in by the myriad of hatching flies. I think I ate more flies than lunch that day.

Alpine Swift

A butterfly fest

This last weekend saw us firstly taking a group to Gloucestershire on Saturday to see a formerly extinct British butterfly; the Large Blue. An insect inscribed in India ink. A unique upperwing among our blue butterflies makes this insect quite unmistakable. They took a little finding in cloudy weather but as soon as the sun sent a shaft of light our way several showed well.

On Sunday we had no such difficulty with a different group in finding Purple Emperors. In fact they found us. Guest Emma even took to wearing one as a hair slide! This large vibrant butterfly is difficult to find in some years … not so at the weekend. We saw around a dozen and each one was ‘just out of the box’ perfect.

If you would like to join us for another butterfly day around Norfolk this coming Saturday 17th July when we’ll be searching for hairstreaks and fritillaries see the following link and let me know.


… and there was light

You wouldn’t think that something so small, and quite frankly ugly, could light up a heath on a dark, dark night. This female glow worm was … well … glowing the other night. Perhaps not so ugly after all.


A few good birds

Lots of tours at the moment. Busy, busy, busy. A few good birds have cropped up en passant.

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Jul 2021


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