In September, Dave and I took a boat trip out onto the North Sea with Northern Experience Wildlife Tours. We left Cumbria nice and early and headed to the marina at North Shields where we were sailing from. Arriving in plenty of time, we had a look around, chatted to the guys in the neighbouring vehicle and started to pull on the sixteen layers that we were going to need to keep us warm! Glancing behind me, I was surprised and delighted to see a friend from university and his family in the car park, donning as many layers as me. Trotting over to say hello, it turned out that we were on the same trip! There were all of ten passengers on this trip, so you would think that the chances of knowing someone else would be pretty slim!
It wasn’t long before the boat arrived and we filed on. Now, this trip had seemed a really good idea when I booked it. Half an hour into it though, as the swell had us bouncing up and down and clinging on for dear life, I was beginning to wonder. I don’t travel too well in boats and despite having taken a travel pill or two, I was beginning to wonder how on earth I was going to cope with eight hours of this. Thankfully, after a couple of hours, the sea calmed down and the tummy settled and I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip and take a few pictures.
There weren’t huge numbers of birds around but I did get a lifer when we had fantastically close views of two grey phalaropes. I also had far better views than ever before of a sooty shearwater, which was lovely. So, here are a few of my best shots. Not the best photos I have ever taken, but it’s not that easy to take photos one handed whilst using the other hand to try to make sure you don’t fall overboard!
|Kittiwake keeping us company alongside the boat|
|Gannet flying past|
|Sooty shearwater with gulls|
|Sooty shearwater taking off|
|Sooty shearwater flying|
|Fulmar taking off|
|Fulmar running on water|
|Guillemot in winter plumage|
|Brent geese heading north|
I wonder if anyone out there can answer a question. In winter plumage, do bridled guillemots retain any of their distinct white plumage or are they indistinguishable from non-bridled guillemots? No one I have asked this question to has been able to answer, so if you know, please leave me a comment below.