Posts Tagged ‘Harbour Porpoise


A ray of sunshine on a day of dead things

I rejoice in the natural world. I don’t normally seek out dead things. It just so happened in the wake of the storm surge we had at the end of last week ‘dead things’ were littered on the beach.

I have never seen so many Sunstars cast up on a high tide. Flatfish were everywhere; as were Starfish and Beaded Anemones. If that wasn’t enough then a Common Cuttlefish, a Harbour Porpoise and for those that want to ‘go large’ a Minke Whale were also brought in by the sea. Most of you will know of the Norfolk Cetacean site. The Harbour Porpoise and Minke Whale are dealt with there Also on the tideline was a Guillemot. Not the usual brown upperparts on this bird; but black Razorbill like feathering. A northern race perhaps? – even seeing this was not the best moment of the day. That came in the form of Miss Nola McCallum. Very pretty without a doubt; but even that was eclipsed by her best attribute. I watched as she knelt aside the guillemot and carefully separated its toes to examine the webbing. Her inquisitive nature and obvious unbridled passion for the natural world filled my heart with hope. Genes no doubt gleaned from her artist and naturalist father, James.


Common Cuttlefish

Beadlet Anemone



Don’t you just love Mull

When I awoke the day before yesterday the weather was still fine and calm; not a ripple on the waters of Tobermory Harbour… an ideal morning to go by boat to the Cairns of Coll before the wind got up later in the day.

As part of our trip to Mull we sail out passed the end of Ardnamurchan peninsula to the cluster of islands at the northern tip of Coll – twenty odd miles. This is Gods own piece of water with all the seabirds you could possibly muster coming to feed within upwelling currents. Throw a couple of White tailed Eagles into the mix of two Skua species, four species of Auk and rafts of Manx Shearwaters and you have a cocktail of birds that is difficult to find anywhere else. Before the weather deteriorated the main players came to the party. A couple of Minke Whales. The first small and active; difficult to photograph. The second was a large animal; slower and easier to focus upon. This one showed to all the group.

As the mammal surfaced to breathe it showed its rostrum and splashguard. The dorsal fin had a small nick in the base of the leading edge – if it’s photographed again or has been previously it should be recognisable.

Harbour Porpoise showed briefly but the healthy colony of Grey and Common Seals showed almost laughable curiosity as we sailed between the islands.

We tipped over one hundred species of bird and nine mammals that day with still a few days of the tour and a stopover in Lancashire set to increase the totals by many more. Don’t you just love Mull!

Minke Whale

Minke 2


Seawatch Foundation – Local Events

A couple of events in which you may be interested if you live in Norfolk:
Firstly on Sunday 21st July there will be an afternoon of talks and entertainment offered by Seawatch Foundation at Cley Village Hall from 2.30 to around 4.30pm – ever wanted to know more about cetaceans … here’s your chance. An ask the experts panel will answer all your questions … but don’t make them too hard … as I’m one of the members of the panel.
Secondly on Saturday the 27th July Sharon and I will be doing a Seawatch as part of the Sea Watch Foundation National Whale & Dolphin Watch. We will be on the bench on the Promenade below Clifton Way in Overstrand from 9am until 5pm. If you care to join us for a spell you would be made most welcome.
Hopefully we’ll be seeing at least some Harbour Porpoise or maybe … just maybe, if we are very lucky, one or two of these…

Common Dolphin photographed on our trip to Scotland last month.
Common Dolphin


Breaking the surface

We watched from the cliff tops more in hope than anticipation on Wednesday. Overstrand is not sat on the best seawatching promontory but it has some reasonable cliffs where you can perch to look north out to sea. A steady south westerly had been gently blowing all day; no conducive to anything rare but we were just after a few bits and pieces … and it was nice just to sit and watch the sea in a gentle warm breeze and chat occasionally with passers-by.

A Shag was first to appear on the sea. Scarce in these parts it was joined by Red throated Divers most showing the summer plumage feature that gave them their name. A steady passage of Gannets was punctuated with Dark Phase Arctic Skuas chasing Arctic and Common Terns. The odd Guillemot on the sea diving under the surface as the Skuas passed overhead. In the distance a formation could be seen coming in over the horizon – were they Cormorants or Geese – head on they were difficult to discern. It wasn’t long before their short dark necks and heads gave the game away. Pink footed Geese are a sure sign winter is around the corner. As we were about to go home a dark arc broke the surface of the greyness in front of us. It was one of those occasions when you think did I see it or didn’t I?  A little concentration on the same patch of water saw another fin break the surface and then another. All together we counted five Harbour Porpoise one of which was a smaller young animal; always nice to see.

You may already be aware I have started a Norfolk Cetacean Website at  ; what you may not be aware is that you can register to receive e-mails to update you on recent sightings and if you’re into social networking you can receive Tweets for sightings too! All this however depends on people submitting their sightings … so if you see anything interesting break the surface of the sea around Norfolk let me know!


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Jun 2023


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