Monday, 30 March 2015

Red-Billed Tropicbird

I grabbed a quick weeks holiday before the season really gets going, and I took myself across to Cape Verde once again.

Over the last few years I have been lucky to meet some really nice people and got to know some good little places to go to bird and a few boat trips thrown in for good measure. Sorry I need my sea fix wherever I go.

This holiday highlight was the Red-Billed Tropicbird, now I'm not saying that's all I saw, but it was a lifer for me and I could not stop smiling about it.

This beautiful white bird glided throw the sky using the wind to its advantage, with its long tail sparkling in the midday sun, and its red bill sticking out like a saw thumb, boy it was just jaw dropping. As I watched the bird do fly byes past me I noticed not just one bird but 12. As you might think I was a happy lad and you would be to if you had not seen on before. Even if you are not a birder, you can't help yourself but admire these birds.

We also noticed where they were nesting on the cliff face of this small mountain which was good to see and they seemed to be very happy there too. It was sheltered from the wind and it was close to the sea where it is perfect feed for them, and I am told by the local fisherman that they love flying fish and there is an abundant of them in the water's around their nesting site. Perfect bird, at a perfect site, on a perfect day. What more could I ask for.....

Well as it happens we also saw an Osprey catch a fish and take it back to it's nest, two Greater Hoope-Larks playing beside the car and as we looked towards to sea we saw 10 Common Dolphins and 10 Pilot Whales feeding.

What a day.....

If you are going to Cape Verde or thinking about it then have a look here for accommodation. and if you are wanting a good lad to take you out to the local hot spots, where you can see the Tropicbirds then have a look here. its under construction at the moment but you can find him on facebook or twitter.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Here we go

Well, the new season is upon us and we are all ready to rock and roll.

We have had the MCA on board the boats doing our out of water inspections. This is where they check the hulls to see that they are free of damage, check the outlet valves to make sure they are in good working order and other bits and bobs and if everything is good then we wait for them to return for the in water inspection.
After the out of water inspection is done we arrange for them to return and check the boat when its back in the water. During this stage they check to see that she not leaking anywhere and go through all the safety checks. We have to go through every valve to make sure they are ok. Check the engines to see that they are working fine and so on and so on. Sometimes this can go on for hours and hours but that all depends on your boat and if they are training someone too.

Sometimes I think to myself, why would they want to look at the hull or check our engines, because if there was a hole in the hull or the engines were not working properly I would not even go to sea myself never mind take passengers out, but I suppose they have to do their jobs and make sure everything thing is ok for our safety and most of all our passengers, and when they are happy and you have done all the jobs they have asked you to do, then we are ready to go for the season.

There were a couple of things we need to do but only new changes to their rules which is totally fine.

So that's it.... After all the jobs are done we are good to go and boy I'm ready for it. It has been a very long and hard winter this year and I'm pleased to put the paint brush down and get back out on the water to where I love and belong.

Sorry but the pictures are off my mobile and they are not the best quality.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Saving the Seal.

On Wednesday morning I received a call from my friend Andrew Smith, asking if I was down the harbour and if I was, could I give him a hand for 15 minutes.

No problem at all I said, so off I went to meet him.

He was beside the gun powder hut which is just the south side of the harbour and he was with a young grey seal pup.

The wind was blowing a gale and he could not rescue the seal as his bag kept on blowing away. He showed me what to do and then he put his gloves on and picked up a towel ready to grab the seal and then we could get it into the bag.

The young seal was not going to get into the bag in a hurry but Andrew did a cracking job and I quickly had the bag ready and we got the seal in.

Andrew quickly weighted the seal as he did not want to stress the seal anymore than he had too, and off we went back along the rocks to his car, where he would take it home and put it into a cage for its own safety.

A little while later a medic from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who is also a vet from St Clair's in Blyth arrived. Andrew was keen to learn a bit more, so the vet showed him how to drip feed the seal and take its temperature.

The young seal was feed some fluids, its temperature was ok, but they waited until the tide was high and went to Monks House with a local Cubs Group, Jane Lancaster (who also is a medic) and released the young seal back into the wild.

Later I was told they called it "Rocky"

I would like to thank Andrew for letting me help him and to all of the rest of the guys who saved this young seals life. I will let the pictures do the rest...

Andrew battling the wind and ready to rescue the young seal.

You have to be very careful and very quick and this stage of the game so don't even try to do it yourself, just give the BDMLR a ring and they will do all the work.

As you can see the seal has its eyes covered up and it's mouth closed just in case it bites. Not the best picture. Sorry Andrew.

Bud was wondering what the hell was going on, but he still had to have a quick sniff at the bag.

Weighing the seal. 

At Andrew's garden with the vet inserting the tube to feed the seal.

Success and the seal was drip feed some fluids.
Temperature was taken
Andrew, Jane and two young helpers from the Cubs taking the seal down the beach to be released.
Go on Rocky son, you can do it.
 Success as Rocky heads out to sea and back to the Farne Islands.

Top job guys.
  You can find Andrew Smith on or if you see a seal and you think its needs help contact BDMLR but please don't waste their time as its all voluntary work they do.  
Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Little Egret

I received a call on Sunday from a friend asking me if I could come down the harbour as he had seen a bird that he was not sure about.

When I arrived I saw a Little Egret in the harbour feeding. This is a first for me in the harbour. We do get them around the area but in the harbour was a nice little tick for a Sunday morning.

We watched it for a good while and it was twisting and stamping its feet in the shallow waters around the rocks, then all of a sudden it grabbed something to eat. Great to watch.

They are beautiful birds and it brightened up a gloomy Sunday morning.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


It was blowing a gale last night and with winds gusting up to 65/70 mph from the S.W. and I was not in a hurry to go out, but the skies were clearing so what do I do.

I decided to watch the football but I must have dozed off (that's how good it was) when my phone rang. When I answered it was Gary saying some aurora was showing if I fancied coming out.

I was still half a sleep but I dragged myself from the chair and headed down to the beach.

I found Gary close to a sand dune and it was really quite sheltered considering the strength of the wind. I set the tripod up, I was hoping it was not going to shake with the wind, but thankfully it was ok.

After a couple of test shots I was ready to go. I didn't see any pink or red but my fingers were crossed that it might show.

A couple of shots later we had a slight shower and then all of a sudden I looked out to sea and I saw what I thought was a rainbow. After quick picture and it was confirmed that it was a rainbow.

I had never seen a rainbow at night before and it was an amazing sight to see.

I have now found out they are called "Moonbow" and if you look at the first and second picture's you will see that I got a double Moonbow. I tell myself it was pure skill but I know it was jammy, but having said that if I stayed in the house I would have never seen it.

After about one and half hours on the beach we decided to head home. Not because it was rubbish but I think we were hoping it was going to turn into a mega aurora but we had that feeling that was it,and we were right.

Gary managed to get a better picture of me so have a look at his blog too.

Here is last nights Moonbow and Aurora and what a way to start the first of the month, instead of a nip and a punch.