Archive for the 'Cetaceans' Category

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.

 

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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.

15
Aug
17

Charming Choughs and Delightful Dolphins

As one of my guests put it this weekend: “Charming Choughs and Delightful Dolphins”. She was referring to the Wild Weekend in Wales tour we were on. We got to see both Choughs and Bottlenose Dolphins. Among everything else we saw for me it has to be the Red Kites that topped the list. They are so enigmatic and powerful. To see 250+ of these birds wheeling in a kettle above us is just one of the UK’s wildlife spectacles. Next year’s tour is up on the website and open for bookings.

07
Aug
17

Kelling Heath and the Chalk Reef

If you have visited North Norfolk to bird watch or you live locally you need to be aware of something. DONG Energy (a Danish Company) have given planning notice of an offshore windfarm development called the Hornsea Project Three.
 
In a nutshell the offshore 342 wind turbines, 19 or so offshore platforms,12 transformer substations and up to 3 accommodation platforms will be located 121km northeast of the Norfolk coast and 160km east of the Yorkshire coast. They will be connected to the shore by up to six undersea cables running in a south-westerly direction from the windfarm to the proposed landfall at Weybourne in North Norfolk via a possible booster station based out at sea. From here it is proposed the cables will be buried in up to 6 trenches, running in a south/south-westerly direction for approximately 55 km and will connect to the national grid between Swardeston and Stoke Holy Cross in South Norfolk. the development area will be up to 200m wide along it’s length.
 
The construction of booster stations along the route may also be required.
There will be construction of temporary haul roads and temporary access tracks, both alongside and separate from the cable route used for the purpose of enabling the underground works
Notice has been given of the required temporary stopping up, alteration or diversion of any street and the permanent and/or temporary compulsory acquisition of land.
A couple of maps are available here Hornsea Project Three_Onshore_Statutory_Consultation_Plan_July 2017 Hornsea Project Three_Project Overview_Phase 2_Statutory_Consultation_Pl.._ showing the seabed route which importantly bisects the offshore chalk reef and also the proposed alternative route across Kelling Heath.
 
Birds such as Dartford Warbler and Woodlark will probably be effected. Adders and butterflies such as Silver studded blue may also be effected. It’s up to you, me and the rest of us to object if we find these plans unacceptable. You have until 20th September to make representation to DONG Energy, by email to HornseaProjectThree@dongenergy.co.uk or by post to Hornsea Project Three offshore wind farm, DONG Energy, 5 Howick Place, London, SW1P 1WG.
I have been sent details in my capacity as an interested party using the county for wildlife tours for my comments.
 
My thoughts: The government has stated that by 2040 there will be a major move away from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric cars and are investing heavily in battery technology to make this happen. This is good. We have to move away from the use of fossil fuels to countermand global warming effects. Power supplies must be developed to enable this change. We have several choices; wind and wave electricity production are two of those choices. So love them or hate them windfarms are part of the resolution. However North Norfolk does not feel like the place development of this kind should take place. I feel we could use the area around Paston to land the cables thereby keeping the heavy industry within Norfolk contained in one place and make the transport of energy to the grid without cutting across an internationally important chalk reef and a nationally important heathland area.
05
Aug
17

National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW)

We’ll be holding this year’s Norfolk’s Sea Watch Foundation National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW) tomorrow  (Sunday  6th August) 11am to 5pm from the broken bench on the eastern side of The Promenade at Overstrand. NR27 0NG If you would like to join us for a while to see if we can find a cetacean or two it would be appreciated. With a couple, if not more, whales seen offshore this week it may prove productive!

16
Jul
17

National Whale and Dolphin Watch

This years Sea Watch Foundation National Whale and Dolphin watch event will be held on Sunday 6th August from the slope at Overstrand off Coast Road NR27 0NG here in Norfolk. The watch will start at 11am and go on until 5pm. Please come and join us for as long as you feel able. You may also like to set up your own watch within the National Whale and Dolphin Week 29th July to 6th August. If you do please call me on 01263 576 995 and I’ll let you have the details you need – any help in recording cetaceans off Norfolk during this national event would be appreciated.

 




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