North Northumberland Bird Club

Wildlife guide and photographer Martin Kitching took members of North Northumberland Bird Club on a remarkable voyage to the hidden world of wildlife just beyond our Northumbrian Coast when he spoke at our first indoor meeting after the summer break.

He is obsessed by storm petrels – the fulmar is his favourite, but his stunning mirror-image of the kittiwake displayed Martin’s amazing talent.

He treated us to tales of the North Sea, with stories of shearwaters, harassing skuas and the pomarine skua, killing for fun, and all just off our shores.

However, that’s just half of Martin’s life. His survey work is the other, protecting species that inhabit our waters.

This part of his talk began with his wonderful image of a white-beaked dolphin. He is seeking cetaceans this time, principally dolphins. The white-beaked dolphin is his main focus: How many are there? Where do they give birth? Where do they spend the winter?

Photo ID has improved tremendously with digital photography so it’s known that many white-beaked dolphins summer off the Northumberland Coast. And Martin has discovered that they appear to have a visible blow.

We discovered that if we looked more, we’d see them. Stag Rocks for porpoise, any day of the year, and they have sensitive hearing so shhh. Sadly, their by-catch record is high.

Bottlenose dolphins are common, some having moved down from Moray. Less common are Risso’s, common, striped, orca, pilot whale, humpback and sperm whales.

Our next meeting is at Bamburgh Pavilion on Friday, at 7.30pm, when Seumas Eaves, the ‘Hairy Birder’ will open up another hidden world with his talk on The Ringing Scheme of the BTO.