Posts Tagged ‘Humpback


Not yet….

I’ve spent quite a while on the coast this week. You could easily find me looking wistfully out to sea. Why? Well, it’s big fauna time. The beginning of November has for the past few years been the period when large whales have occurred off Norfolk; particularly ‘Humpy’ our returning Humpback. Unfortunately, not this year. Or at least, not so far.  Unfortunately there are no large flocks of feeding gannets or divers offshore either which gives a clue as to why the whales have not arrived. There are no fish! The Herring don’t appear to have arrived here as yet. So if there’s no food on the table why come to the party! This is endorsed by the fishermen locally who tell me ‘there’s just nothing doing’.

Given the year has been a bit ‘topsy-turvy’ weather wise and autumn has not really bitten us as yet there may still be time for something to happen. I’ll keep on looking. In the meantime here’s a photo I took this summer in Canada of four humpbacks together.

Humpbacks in the mist.





Humpback Days

It was just not possible to be disappointed given our experiences in the Bay of Fundy despite not seeing what we went there to see.

Northern Right Whales are among the rarest animals on the planet; with only some 350 alive finding one was always going to be difficult. It was a long shot and despite spending over 27 hours at sea over six days we didn’t have even have a sniff of one. Global warming has made differences of late. Water temperature increases mean the plankton on which the Northern Rights feed is no longer in abundance within the bay and the whales are having to find sustenance elsewhere… I can feel another trip coming on.

In the meantime here are some photos of a few of the many humpbacks we saw. Further insights into what else we saw I’ll let you know of over the next week or so.

Humpback 1 Humpback 2 Humpback 3 Humpback 4 Humpback 5 Humpback 6 Humpback 7Humpback Whale 8


The return of the whale

Last year a Humpback was seen off Suffolk before spending some time off the Norfolk coast during October/November. The occurrence in October this year of a Humpback off Minsmere gave hope that ‘Humpy’ had returned and would make his/her way back to the Norfolk coast to feed on the Herring shoals. I spend most of the day on Monday at Sea Palling searching the sea for a possible returning whale.

A large whale was seen yesterday off Winterton. One observer thought it was possibly a humpback. When I arrived at the site there was no sign of the whale. I also searched the Sea Palling and Horsey area to no avail. I did however have the best sea watch I’d had for a very long time. Pommerine Skuas, Little Auks, Little Gulls, Great Northern, Red throated Divers and a host of other species were passing in droves with a backdrop of endless Gannets. I also searched all those areas again today in kinder conditions and was treated to a couple of Short eared Owls coming in off the sea, more Little Auks as well as discovering a Yellow browed Warbler in the dunes at Sea Palling. I returned home for lunch determined to go out again this afternoon and find this damn whale and put it’s identification beyond doubt.

I received a call conveniently just as I was on my way out again. A whale, thought to be a Humpback was off Mundesley. It didn’t take me long to get to the site as it’s only a few miles away, it took longer to pinpoint where the whale was hiding. Followed by an entourage of Gannets a dark shape repeatedly broke the surface with a large bushy blow. The stubbly fin shape was indicative of a Humpback as was the white on the underside of the tail fluke which it occasionally showed. What I did see of the tail fluke pattern, which like a fingerprint is unique to each Humpback, gave me confidence to announce that it was the same individual that had visited us last year despite it being some 5kms distant.

Let’s hope (s)he continues to return and brings others to enjoy the Herring shoaling off Norfolk in the latter months of the year. I do however have great concerns given the extensive amount of shipping passing to and fro using the same area.

Humpback_Z5A0827 Humpback_Z5A0955 Humpback_Z5A0993

An article on identifying distant cetaceans is in preparation for posting in Letter from Norfolk in the next few days.



A Whale of a time

You would think a very  very showy Cetti’s Warbler, a subtly marked beautiful female Ring Ouzel and sixty odd other species was enough for a mornings bird watching to throw at us? How wrong could I have been?

We were on our tour to Minsmere in Suffolk yesterday and my guests were already pleased with what they had seen. Little did we know there was so much more to come.

Our bird list for the day was escalating quickly but on reaching the sea I scanned the horizon only to find it disappointingly bereft of birds. I scanned again. Was that a dark shape I just saw? Studying the sea closely it reappeared and then went down below the waves again. Although it was a long way out it was definitely a cetacean; a large one at that. It was facing me and looked broad as it surfaced again. I know that shape well. A clear bushy blow discounted Minke. When it turned side on at the next surfacing the stubby fin confirmed we were watching a Humpback; Suffolk’s second ever. We watched it for quite a while and enjoyed the moment. Judging the appearances there may have been another cetacean nearby but of this I remain unsure.

The Stoat chasing a Rabbit almost around our feet during our picnic lunch was a delight to watch; the predator at least having the decency to despatch his quarry out of sight. The day was turning into a ‘mammal day’.

Perhaps for my guests the icing on the cake was the Otter we watched surfacing and surprising the Teal and Wigeon flock. For me … it had to be finding that long winged new-englander lounging offshore. It made my year!


Humpback Whale _MG_1574

Here’s one I photographed earlier!


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Feb 2023


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