Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Sandwich Terns

Everyone that comes to the Farnes are obsessed on getting pictures of the Puffins with sand eels in their bills so this time I have decided to try and change that trend and get Sandwich Terns with fish in their bills.

Luckily at this time of the year you can watch what they are doing as they seem to have a bit of a routine so the shots are not as difficult as the Puffins.

Saying that they are still a bit of a challenge but hopefully I have captured the moment for you.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Our Sightings

Its been a really mixed week this week and it started last Monday when I was out with divers.

We had finished our dive at the Big Harcar and we were lying at Staple Island as it was sheltered so it was easier for me to make the guys a cup of coffee, when one of them shouted look at this.

The sea had come alive with Coalfish jumping out of the water. The only ever time I had seen this was on the TV when a whale rounds the shoal of fish up and then eats them.

I waited and waited to see if there was something around but nothing surfaced.

It happened again about 20 minutes later and again nothing surfaced.

I thought this was a one off but it happened again the next day and a few more times during the week.
I gave one the guys a call on the Islands to see if they had seen it and they had. They thought it was a young seal not knowing what it was doing or just having a bit of fun.

Whatever it was it was just amazing to watch and I did manage to get a few pictures too.

The gulls were on the ball as they also got an easy meal.

There still has been a good few feeding frenzies going on and even the Gannets have been getting in on the feast.

A picture of the sand eels taken from the surface.

A nice little yaught passed the islands but it was the sail reflection in the water that caught my eye.

The Golden Plover numbers are increasing

as well as the Turnstones

 and we have had a good few Gannets passing throught the islands.

a few Harbour Porpoise have been sighted lately.

but the biggest sighting we have had this week was the Saga Sapphire passing the Inner Farne before heading out to sea.

They say she a small ship carrying 720 passengers, weighing 37,301 tones but she is not small compared to me or even the Inner Farne.


A seal playing with one of the lobster pot bouys.

Our first Sooty Shearwater of the year flying north past the Brownsman

but the Coalfish stole the show this week and they can jump some height out of the water aswell.

So here is the last picture of them clean out if the water.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Last but not least

Over the last week we have been watching the last pair of Razorbills on a small ledge at the Pinnacles and everyday we have been wondering if they will still be there the next day.

Well today was the day they left....

We watched them this morning on our first trip and then the second trip but by the time we got to the last trip they were gone or so we thought.

The parents know where to be seen but all of a sudden we heard a call and the baby Razorbill walked to the edge of the cliff face. Two seconds later the chicks parents arrived from the other side of the Pinnacles and they were calling too.

One of the Razorbills disappeared under the water but we never seen that one again, but the other stayed calling.  Now I don't know why they don't call the chick a "Jumpling" like the Guillemot chicks are called, as they do the same thing and I'm sure its the father who takes care of the chick after that but it was just amazing to watch and to hear them both calling.

With all the other seabirds around in the height of the season sometimes all you can hear is the Guillemots but this the is the first time I have ever heard the Razorbills call and because no other seabirds are around its quite something. To me its sounds a bit like a Arr in a crocky voice but I might be totally wrong.

We hung around for a little bit but I did not want to put it off so I decided to stay well away.

Anyway I don't know if this is a late record for the Farnes but I will try and find out tomorrow, but for now here are a few pictures I got today.


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Roseate Tern

The Roseate Tern numbers are steadily building on the Inner Farne over the last week and they are beautiful to.

Yes they are coming out of their summer plumage but they are still lovely to see. I did see a few at the beginning of the season but they were either to far away over just flying over but lately they have been close up so I have managed to get a picture or two.

I have also been told that they have had a good season on Coquet Island with around 94 pairs and 105 chicks ringed by Tom Cadwallender which is great news.

Fingers crossed one day they will breed on the Inner Farne but until then I will just have to enjoy them while they are here.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Minkie Whale

It was one of the best days on the Farnes today with flat calm seas and beautiful sunshine, but what made it even better was the Minkie Whale that decided to circle the boat to give our guests a great show.

A gentleman said that he had spotted something like a dolphin in the water but I dismissed it straight away saying that it was a seal, but I had to back track as it broke the surface and I saw a Minkie Whale.

I could not believe it and I had to apologize to the man as he was right and I was so wrong, but the Farnes keeps on making a fool of me as every year it produces something new and different which is why I love the place.


It was only small but that did not matter at all, as it came to say hello again and again and again, so after a few pictures this is what we were (or I was) getting excited about, but after looking at some of the pictures I noticed some fishing net around it which was really sad and I just wished I could have jumped in to cut it off but I did not notice at the time. I would have probably got wrong anyway.

Such a shame.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Mixed Sightings

Its been a good few weeks around the Farne Islands with lots of things happening. The weather has been very kind to us, and we have been able to get out everyday which is always good.

Now we are lucky enough not to have to much rubbish around the Farnes but we do come across driftwood and balloons from time to time but this time we were really shocked to see a large object floating in the water.
As we got closer we could not believe our eyes as it was a fridge. It really annoys me to see things thrown into the sea to start with but whoever did this they a taking the mickie.

All you have to do is leave it outside your home and there is bound to be a scrap man passing and he will take it away for you. He makes a bit of money, it gets recycled and you have got rid of your rubbish, job done. For flaming sake don't through it in the sea.

Never mind we got rid of it for you... Andy (my crewman) stamping out the rubbish in the north sea..

Andy also saved a stunned Guillemot that landed on the boat. After a few bites of his hand we quickly checked to see if it was okay and off it flew but I think Andy came of the worst as his hand was pouring with blood. Ha it serves him right for taking the Pee out of me over the last few weeks.

On a sadder note we found a Guillemot struggling in the water and you could see it was not long for this world, so we put it on the jetty at Brownsman Island and told the rangers. Unfortunately we were told later that it passed away as it had not been cleaning itself properly.

I'll stop the doom and gloom now as we have been seeing the Bottlenose Dolphins again and again and again but we will never tire of seeing them that is for sure. This is a picture of the mother and her young one enjoyed the sun and loads of food that is around at the moment.

and of course the Bridled Tern has once again graced the Inner Farne.

The Inner Farne is well known for the Artic Terns dive bombing and pecking you on the head, but guys please don't ware hats like this as it breaks the Terns bills. Luckily we gave a hat to the person who had this, so they did not go onto the island with it, and to be honest they just did not know.

We we also stunned to see a Cormorant take a Eider chick, and as it tried to eat it all of a sudden it let it go and of it went. We might have been to close and scared the Cormorant or it just lost its grip but at least the chick got away. Thank you Mandy for this picture.

This season has been full of exciting sightings and hopefully we will see lots of Minkie Whales and some cracking birds soon, so our seabirds slowly start to leave the Farnes.

We are seeing big gaps in the cliff faces where the Guillemots have been and the puffin chicks are making their way into the sea for the first time. I will give it a few more weeks until nearly every seabird departs our shores.

I will keep you updated on their progress and here is the last couple of pictures before they depart our shores.


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Ringing Sandwich Terns

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Inner Farne the other day to watch the rangers ring Sandwich Terns.

Sometimes we take these guys for granted and we do not see all the hard work they do behind the scenes. As well as looking after all the boats that land and answering probably the same question over and over again from the guests that land on the islands, they have to be up early to do the most important stuff on the islands which is all the data.

They record the weather 4 times a day, they do all the bird counts, they keep the islands maintained and on top of all that they ring seabirds and monitor every mortal thing that goes on and all this is very important for the seabirds and the Farne Islands, so when I got the chance to watch what they do I jumped at it.

I arrived at the Islands at 8am and the guys were just finishing of their morning cuppa. We headed up to the Sandwich Tern colony where I meet Dr Chris Redfern at a table setting up ready for the ringing session.

He is head of the operation along with David Steel (Head Ranger) and he keeps an eye on everything that goes on. He also was writing all the ring numbers (Silver) down, along with the Darvic rings.

Darvic rings are to help the likes of myself, to be able to identify the letters a little easier, then I can report them back the David so he can add them to his records. This is only the second year they have used them on the Sandwich Terns and I was told they were hoping for them to last about 5 to 6 years and in this time they should be able get enough information from them to learn more about the Terns.

I know some birders out there who ring lots of birds will read this blog and think different, but from a person who has never seen anything like this before it was just amazing and I have the upmost respect to you all, but I suppose if your used to doing it all the time it becomes second nature, just like me with my boat, you just think nothing of it.

Anyway, the way the guys make sure they don't have any gaps in the silver tags they put it on, as it could get caught on the thinnest of things. The way they hold the bird. The care and attention they put into make sure they don't hurt the bird is second to none and I have to take my hat of to that.

Back to the event.

We slowly and carefully walked into the tern colony watching were we put our feet as we did not want to stand on any of their eggs or very small chicks. Once we were in, the guys started searching for the ones that were a bit bigger. The reason for this was that if they were to small the rings would just fall of them.

They got the first one and they wanted to get 32 in total.

One by one they carefully placed them into the box.

Birds eye view.

Putting the final touches to the Darvic ring onto the tern.

There we have it both rings attached checked once again and all good to go.

Looking good and nearly ready to fly.

These ones are ringed and ready to go back into the colony.

After an eventful morning I made my way back to the boat with a big smile on my face and I will be keeping my eyes wide open from now on to see if I spot any of these fella's. Thank you gang for giving me the chance to learn a little bit more.