25 Sep 2018  Beluga!

Yesterday was rotten. Today was amazing. That's the way the wildlife-watching world crumbles. I'll spare you the details of yesterday - because they are not the focus of this blog. But suffice to say that (a) I walked and watched a lot of Norfolk for zero return; (b) I drove a lot of Norfolk, very fast, on the trail of a Black-browed Albatross that transpired to be a Gannet; and (c) I got a bit too close when photographing crashing waves, and got covered by a particularly frothy, powerful, stormy surge (optics included). I then gave a talk - about albatrosses, ironically - in Great Yarmouth, and got home late and exhausted. For the sake of my energy levels, health, workload and family, today needed to be quiet. It wasn't. For that I hold Guernsey Dave - why does it always have to be Guernsey? - responsible. He - with Mike Hoit and Dave 'Faz' Farrow close by - made my day horrendous. Which made it amazing. For, as you may possibly have heard on the interweb or radio or TV -  the trio discovered a Beluga Whale in the River Thames, loafing around the border between Essex and Kent. A Beluga Whale. In the Thames. FFS.

Will Soar took the following video (his copyright, not mine).

Ah yes, there was media attention. Two choppers were present: Sky and the BBC (the latter presumably assuming that they won't be sued for invasion of privacy; the Beluga doesn't have Cliff Richard's recourse to legal advisors, after all).

Within 30 seconds of me reading the tweet above just before midday - alerted by Mike Hoit - Will Soar was on the phone, suggesting we go. I couldn't, having to pick up my daughter from school four hours later. Within 30 further seconds, I had changed my mind, and - a minute after that - had arranged after-school care and default pick-up plans, grabbed my car keys and optics, and made haste to Young William's abode. Within 2 hours 15 minutes of reading the tweet, we were watching the Beluga in northern Kent. Yes, I know. I live in Norwich. And it was a 20-minute walk to the mammal. Please don't do the maths. But it was a Beluga! In the Thames! A Beluga! A BELUGA IN THE THAMES!



James Lowen 

Dave got on the telly and will presumably now become an International Superstar. And he is worthy. For a Beluga in the Thames is the find of the decade, if not his lifetime. Guernsey, mate, I salute you. But I salute the whale even more. Let's hope it returns to the Arctic and that no more of its brethren are so stymied by climate change that they too abscond southwards.