Dolphin first for Gibraltar Point

Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve.
Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve.

Gibraltar Point scored a major first at the weekend when a wildlife enthusiast spotted a pod of five Bottlenose dolphins - the first ever recorded at the site.

The popular wildlife reserve has proven even more of a wildlife enthusiast’s dream than normal in recent days - after a rare sighting of a Short-toed lark brought out a wave of birdwatchers.

And it was one of these avid birders, Barry Clarkson, who spotted the dolphins heading north late on Saturday afternoon.

Gibraltar Point site manager Kev Wilson is delighted with the rare sightings.

He said: “There had already been quite a lot of interest in the north end of the reserve because of the short toed lark, which is from southern Europe.

“Quite a lot of people were looking in that area and it was coincidence that we had so many eyes there.

“The Bottlenose dophins were unexpected.

“They might not have stuck around and may have just been passing through - you can’t second-guess these things - but I’ve never seen that species off Gibraltar Point in all the years I’ve been watching out here.”

He added that the vastness of the reserve meant that rare appearances could often go unobserved.

Other big sightings in recent days included a large number of migratory yellow wagtails, over 250 of which were seen on just one day, which Kev said was “phenomenal”.

“It’s an amazing time of year for bird migration and for stuff happening,” continued Kev. “[As well as the dolphin sighting] we had two harbour porpoises seen that day as well.”

He added that the regularity of harbour porpoise sightings off Gibraltar Point in late summer/autumn time in recent years suggested that this area of the North Sea could have a resident population of the animals.

“They’re not fixed to any one spot but people are beginning to realise that this part of the North Sea is quite important for harbour porpoises as well as the seals that people regularly see,” he said. “The common seal populations are of European importance.”

Away from the dolphins, other impressive visitors have included the migratory population of Knot. Over 70,000 of the birds were observed at Gibraltar Point last week after returning from the Arctic, Greenland and eastern Canada, where they breed in the summer months.

Meanwhile, budding wildlife enthusiasts will get a special chance to observe some of the reserve’s animal life on September 18 when the site hosts its latest Sea Watch.

The drop-in session is free and will run from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

People don’t need to book and can simply turn up on the night. Those looking to take part should park at the beach car park and walk out to the beach from there.