Archive for the 'Cetaceans' Category

31
Dec
17

Just the best day ever

So here we are. The end of the year. Some big changes for me in the last quarter; but what of the year in total, what were the best bits? Well, there were many that’s for sure. On the tours we had all the usual aspects of a visit to central Scotland in April with even some spring Waxwings making an appearance, followed by some astounding mammals in May; Salmon tossing Bottlenose Dolphins and Badgers you could have touched being the highlights. The trip to Mull in May gave us Eagles a plenty with some other notable raptors and auk sightings.  The Kites put on their usual display in a Welsh June with several dolphins thrown in. A summer tour to the Farne islands never disappoints and once again it lived up to its reputation. All this was capped off with a good scoop of rare birds on Scillies.

Day tours in Norfolk and beyond were again exceptional with some notable highlights of breeding Black winged Stilts and Cattle Egrets. Migration it has to be said was a little slow on the passerine front but seabirds and wildfowl came through in droves.

Personally there have been a couple of days that stand out in the memory. Seeing Blainville’s Beaked Whales in Madeira has to rank up there for sure. Madeira is a beautiful island and just kept giving. However, it was the South Atlantic in January that took my heart. One day in particular; 15th January and a ferry ride to Magdalena Island. The Commerson’s Dolphins, the Sei Whales, penguins, waders, passerines and the sheer biomass … and so much more. A memorable day which couldn’t be beaten.

 

Advertisements
28
Dec
17

Hourglass

I’m always telling my guests ‘NEVER delete photographs in the camera’. Have a good look at them on a big screen first. It can pay dividends. I’m so glad I listened to my own advice in January of this year when I was in the South Atlantic. Standing on the lower observation deck I could see splashing in the far distance. I couldn’t make out what was the cause but I fired off a few shots to look at later. I then got distracted with shearwaters and Albatrosses. I have to admit I almost deleted the shots as on the face of it they didn’t reveal anything during a quick scan on the back of the camera. It wasn’t until I returned home in February I found something quite startling.

Not a great photo, I have to admit, but there on close scrutiny quite clearly was the shape of a dolphin. A little careful processing and there you have it … an Hourglass Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus cruciger) These babies are quite small rarely seen dolphins. First identified in 1824 from drawings; despite years of whaling in the 20th century only three specimens had been found up to 1960. Up to 2010 only 6 complete and 14 partial specimens had ever been examined.

28
Oct
17

A Change

Change is inevitable. Nothing stops the same. Places change, people change, relationships change and time changes. The time had come for me to move on. I have left Falcon Cottage and have settled into a place at West Runton. I’m sorry to leave the comforting old house and the garden that has attracted so many rare birds; but time moves forward. My new flat a little ways along the coast at West Runton will serve its purpose well for the business. Thanks are due to very good friends Paul and Tony for the help they gave with the move on Monday and a select few others that have given, and continue to give, their support.

West Runton is a place of rarities too and I hope to be able to give the place the time it deserves to find a few. This is my new back garden.

07
Oct
17

Love of life

Whenever dolphins appear it shines a light into peoples lives. So it was yesterday.

Travelling out to the Isles of Scilly on the notorious Scillonian III conditions were flat calm. Ideal for seeing cetaceans. Bottlenose Dolphins were the first to appear; slow methodical, bulky dolphins these, we had around four of them. Harbour Porpoise were almost omnipresent and numbered in the 30’s. As we were watching them a large dark animal broke the surface. A Minke Whale gave four or five opportunities for us to get a glimpse…. and then they arrived!

In typical spectacular fashion Common Dolphins gatecrashed the party; leaping and bounding into centre stage. Everyone loves a playful dolphin!

 

21
Sep
17

Looking for Whales and finding butterflies

It’s not every day you get a message stating there’s a whale 14 miles inland. From photos sent to me it was obviously a Minke Whale – maybe quite a young individual and obviously quite dead; although earlier in the day it had been seen alive. Oh what the hell, I needed a few photos of buildings in King’s Lynn to complement the chapter on whaling in the book I’m writing, so a trip to the other side of the county was on the cards anyway. So I might as well go and have a look at this whale in the Great River Ouse at the same time. Perhaps take a few measurements and maybe try and sex it for the records. To be honest I’ve enough on at the moment but it was an opportunity to have a break.

When I got to Downham Market there was no sign of the damn whale. I confirmed with a local chap exactly where it had been the previous evening. Tell me again … exactly how do you lose a whale?

Overnight there had been a hell of a south westerly blowing, it even woke me up it was that loud. Combined with a high tide the wind had obviously dislodged the animal and it was floating free somewhere. The question was, upstream or downstream? The tide was running in and all floating objects were going upstream. However the strong wind had been pushing downstream overnight as had the tide. I decided to check both. I climbed in the car and ventured forth on rolling fen roads for mile after mile. The thing is, fen roads are built on a peat subsoil that absorbs and loses water through the season; so the ground ends up swelling and shrinking. It rises and falls like a bride’s nightgown. You end up travelling on tarmac something akin to the world’s longest fair ride. Anyways, I checked the length of the river from bridge after bridge between Denver sluice and Kings Lynn – nada, nothing, nil! All I found were a swift, which clipped my ear as it flew southwards against the still strong wind, and a Common Seal which was almost as lost as the whale. It stared at me with one of those sorrowful big eyed looks and I’m sure it shrugged its shoulders and raised its eyebrows at one point.

For my troubles I got a good chastising from an Anglian Water worker for parking in a gateway but even that was preferable to the bull which headed at a not inconsiderable pace in my direction causing me to beat a hasty retreat. Next time I see a sign saying ‘Bull with Cows in Field’ I might take more notice.

However, as I was packing up and heading for my photographic foray in Kings Lynn I spotted something small in the grass. It wasn’t a whale. It was a blue butterfly. A Common Blue. Not that unusual sure, but a very contrasty Common Blue. A late one too.

Forever looking for whales and finding butterflies.

 

15
Sep
17

Camouflaged

Some creatures can be right before your eyes … but can take some finding. I was thinking back this week to January … the 15th to be exact. A memorable wonderful day of new things. As I walked on the isolated island of Magdalena, off Punto Arenas in southern Chile, I passed a shoreline of stones. The Magallenic Penguins were perhaps the highlight, or maybe the Sei Whales or the Commerson’s Dolphins we saw on the return ferry journey. However, hidden among the rocks were Rufous chested Dotterels. Simply unseen until seen. So many highlights to mention … in such a wonderful place.

26
Aug
17

A Mothers Love

Young life is precious. I was on Madeira a couple of months ago. Well, to be accurate I was at sea off the south west corner of of the island. We came across a very young Sperm Whale. It was flanked by two grown up females. Presumably one was it’s mother; the other maybe an aunt or sister.  This is an animal with the largest brain of any organism on earth including ourselves. This complicated and advanced species has a developed social infrastructure. Any which ways it was obvious this young fella was being protected and defended from all comers.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

January 2018
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Archives


%d bloggers like this: