Sunday, 7 March 2010

Punk on Pelagic

Emerging from the worst winter in my memory I was pleased to finally get out on another survey day for the Marinelife White-beaked Dolphin Survey that I've been involved in since last year. Sunshine and calm seas greeted Ross Ahmed and I as we arrived at Amble Marina to locked gates and no sign of boat, skipper or team leader. A hasty phone call and five minutes later and we were at Amble Harbour boarding our vessel of choice for the day, a twin hull catamarang that normally operates the RSPB tours around Coquet Island. Martin Kitching, Tim Sexton and a big surprise in the guise of Dan Brown, one member of the uber-cool Punkbirder rat pack guesting for the day. After introductions we readied ourselves for the off.

The winter has seen me pile on the weight due to inactivity to the extent that I now closely resemble the shape of a well known chunky seabird, this one in fact.

Much more variety than back in December, three Red-throated Diver flew past close in as well as small numbers of Kittiwake and Fulmar as we motored north to hit our first transect. Guillemot were by far the most common auk as usual but we had 20-30 Atlantic Puffin at least three Razorbill and best of all five Little Auk all spotted in lightening quick fashion by DB as they lifted ahead of us whilst along one of the transects about 32km off Seahouses.
A single Common Dolphin was the only cetacean recorded, we did see a few Grey Seal including one corpse that MK thought had been shot. Suggestions of roping it in, opening it up and dragging it as chum were surprisingly discounted.
Steady streams of adult Northern Gannet moved north, occasionally passing close and we must have totalled c150 by the end of the day. Large gull numbers were much lower than December with only a few Herring Gull and GBB Gull visible in the areas we covered.

Greater Black Backed Gull

Loads of interesting conversation during the dry spells between birds but I couldn't possibly break the confidentiality and mention the Punkbirder embezzlement scandal, or which three Irish birders Dan would lock in a room together or the various theories on the identity of the mysterious Mr White. Good company on the sea is always a bonus and good company that can pull a few Little Auks out of the water is even better.


Steve Gale said...

Bill Oddie IS Mr White. Kate Humble told me... or did she say it was Lee Evans?

Brian Robson said...

I was wondering where the Litle Auk report on BF had come from, AT Sea.

Martin Kitching said...

This nice weather means we'll probably get out Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week. Saturday will be a reprise of the Farne Deeps...