Posted by: orcaweb | May 10, 2016

Plenty Of Porpoises For Passengers

This week has been a welcome change from the last couple of weeks on board. Knowing Rachael had spotted 6 harbour porpoise during her week on board (even with catching the tail end of the bad weather), I was very hopeful that this week would turn out to be a good one.

The week started off slow for cetaceans but high on birds from the regulars such as the wide variety of gulls, terns and the northern gannet to a few not so regular sightings… A flock of 8 swans for a start! Definitely a strange sighting for me out at sea!

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A couple of stowaway pigeons as well as a teeny tiny shorebird who took shelter on the deck just below our observation deck. If any more experienced birders out there would like to enlighten me as to what species it is I would be very grateful!

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Thinking that the first group of swans had been unusual on the way in too Ijmuiden, I was more surprised to see another flock of swans just a few days later.

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The bird sightings were really lovely, but I was starting to wonder if the dolphins and porpoises were going to make an appearance. Then, on Thursday evening I had my first porpoise sighting in quite a while. Unfortunately it was so fleeting that the passengers out on deck with me were not able to catch a glimpse of the lone harbour porpoise.

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Photo: harbour porpoise

This porpoise was just the start of a wonderful week. Our next sighting was just two days later. We had beautiful weather and fair seas which gave me good reason to be optimistic… In the first hour, the many passengers enjoying the good weather, were ecstatic to see 9 harbour porpoises and 1 grey seal. The enjoyment of the passengers was clear so deciding to make the most of the good weather and passenger enthusiasm I stayed out on deck to survey for another hour. I am very glad we did. Over the next hour we saw another 10 harbour porpoises. One of these sightings was a mother and her calf! To really make it a special evening for the passengers, 11 white-beaked dolphins were also spotted in the second hour out on deck. Six of these were in one pod – I decided I must have been seeing things to start with as the pod of six white-beaked dolphins when they first surfaced looked less like individuals and more like one large animal! Which at this time of year and also on the Ijmuiden coastline is very unlikely. It only took them to surface for a second time before I was really able to see them clearly as 6 individuals.

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Photos: white-beaked dolphins

A final harbour porpoise surfaced as we left Ijmuiden on our final trip back to Newcastle for this week, which popped up when I had a group of Polish students, and a few other passengers out on deck. It was beautiful weather and the first deck watch of this season that I did not need my coat!

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Today I will be joined by our first wildlife guide placement of the season Ellie. Fingers crossed that the good weather and good sightings continue for her when she joins us on board the DFDS King Seaways.

Kerry

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Responses

  1. Hi Kerry, we think the little bird is a Temminck’s Stint. Family of waders. You don’t write where you spotted him/her, probably while leaving England. According to our Guide ‘Birds of Britain and Europe’ they are rare, and live in Scandinavia and Scotland. Did he fly away or stay there the whole trip?
    On the pier of IJmuiden you can find many Turnstones.
    We will be on board of the Princess Seaways next month, and hope to spot many birds and dolphins.
    Keep on your good work with ORCA.

    Kind regards
    Jeannette Kolthek, Hoofddorp, the Netherlands

  2. Hi, I would say your small stowaway is probably a Rock Pipit. They migrate from wintering in SW and W Europe to the north in spring, and that may have been what it was doing.


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