Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Night Photography

Its been very quite on the bird front lately so I have been out with my camera trying some new stuff. Some have been successful but others have flopped big time. Never mind at least I tried and I do need a lot more practise that's for sure.

I have even had my little girl Charlie with me on some accession's and she's seems to have enjoyed it, but one night was a little to much for her. Bless her, she was freezing.
She has also been hinting for own camera and it might be a good excuse for me to buy one for her and then just have it myself. The wife will never know. "He say's to himself". 

I have also been painting the boats along with Andy and Tony of course, but the weather lately has stopped all that, so now I have been roped into painting my house. Oh the joys of winter.

If I get some more practise in then fingers crossed I will have it cracked. Well hopefully I will, but for now here is a few pictures.

Star Trails at Dunstanburgh Castle.

Charlie freezing her toes off. Thank god it was not a school night.  

Stag Rock but its a bit light for my liking

The Stag itself

Any comments, hints or tips please let me know.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The year of the Bottlenose Dolphin (2014)

This has been the best year for Bottlenose Dolphins that I have ever seen, and to see as many throughout the season has been unbelievable.

It's funny how every year the Farnes does something that amazes me, and not one year is ever the same as the other.

Last year it was the year of the Minkie Whale but this year the Bottlenose Dolphin has stolen the show for me.

There has been loads of feed around and this is why they are here and who can blame them, but the Farnes is not only the place they have been sighted. They have been seen south of Sunderland and up to Holy Island and probably lots of other places that I have never been told about.

They were being spotted nearly every week in May, June, July and then it went a little quite until mid September when there were a few sightings and again in October but it was 24th October when the biggest pod was witnessed just south of Staple Island and we followed them all the way back to the harbour.

They are all from the Moray Firth and I have heard people say that they are the Tay dolphins to but according to my sources the loosely termed "Tay community" are also found in the Moray Firth ID archive so that will do for me.

Its a bit of a slow process going through the pictures to identify them and when I have been getting a few minutes spare this is what I have been doing.

Here are a few of the dolphins I have come across

This mature male is called BAARACUDA and he has seen lots around the Moray Firth.

and this one below is called BLACK AND DECKER and he is also a mature male to but he's rarely seen.

 "PUNCH" an adult female (2 known calves) and Infrequently sighted

"RUNNY PAINT" an adult female (1 known calve) Infrequently sighted

On the east and west coast of Scotland they have between 200-300 dolphins, so for us to have as many down here is amazing. I would say the most I have seen at one time 60/70 individual's in one pod but most of the time 20/30 individuals in a pod which has been amazing really.

I have to say trying to identify the dolphins is a long and slow process and I do have a lot more but I would be hear for ever so I will sign off now and I hope you enjoyed my sighting from 2014 and hopefully 2015 will be just a good if not better.

Happy New Year everyone.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What a year 2014 was.....

What a great year for being on the water 2014 was and I'm hoping and praying it is the same for 2015.

The year started with some dreadful weather but luckily for the people living in Northumberland we never really had it as bad as the guys on the south coast.

I always remember watching the news and seeing all the floods everywhere and thinking that I'm really lucky living where I do.

People tend to think that because I live up north that its really cold, wet and miserable but in fact they could not be more wrong. For some reason Seahouses seems to get away with everything. Yes we don't get the hot weather you get in the south in the summer but its really nice and pleasant here. We don't get hardly any snow and if we do it tends to be gone in a day or so and for some reason we don't get a lot of rain either and that has something to do with the Cheviot Hills.
The more and more I think about it we are really lucky here and that's the way I like it.

During the bad weather period and trying to get the boats ready for the season we had a Grey Phalarope for a good while at Stag Rock and it was giving everyone a really good show and for me I could not have started the year of better with a cracking bird and one so accommodating.

During the bad weather myself and the family went on holiday to Cape Verde where I saw some cracking birds and the one that topped the bill was the Cream-coloured Courier and when I went back a bit later I saw my first Pilot Whales and Brown Booby.

After my holidays it was back on Serenity II to start my season's adventures around the Farnes and once again it produced it all.

The Bottlenose Dolphins stole the show this year and they wowed myself and made a lot of my guests very happy.

Then there was the phone call from Laura who was on the Inner Farne saying that I could go out and see the Bluethroat after the day was over.

I could not drop Andy (my crewman) of quicker to get back out to see this beautiful bird.

After that we had the charming Lolo Williams onboard the boat with his film crew. Ron our skipper for the diving boat could not help himself and he photo bombed Andy. A very funny moment for us but not for Andy. You had to be there.

Just after they had finished filming and got back to the harbour the Bottlenose Dolphins arrived again but they were on a time schedule so they did not go back out to see them.
Ron decided to go out and he grabbed Sue who works in the booking office for us and the look on her face made my day.

Thanks for helping us this year Sue. Unfortunately, all the other girls in the booking office never got a chance to see them and they were really disappointed but fingers crossed for next year.

We had some great Sunset Cruises and with some really good company too.

I was also invited out to the Inner Farne to watch the guys doing some ringing which was really interesting and it was nice to see the rangers doing their, behind the scenes work instead of just catching my rope. Thanks guys for letting me enjoy this experience as I will never forget it.

We had a cracking Minkie Whale around the boat but over all it was a very quite season for the Minkie's.

but I did have the pleasure of witnessing a basking shark around the boat.

I also witnessed fish jumping out of the water near the Pinnacles and after talking to David and Laura from the Farnes we come to the conclusion that it was a young seal swimming past them and that why they were jumping out of the water.

We had a couple of great winter wildlife trips and the weather was kind to us to. The Long-tailed Ducks, Little Auk and the Red-necked Grebe were the stars of those trips but that's not to say that seeing hundreds of Oystercatchers take off together was not special.


and to finish the season off we have had a Black-necked Grebe and Little Auk in the harbour.

I have also been out over the last few days with trips around the Farnes and noticed lots of seal pups around and loads are new borns too. The seals are slowly starting to move closer and closer towards the Inner Farne and the Wideopens and who can blame them as those Islands are a lot more sheltered.
This seal pup below was on the end of the Longstone Island so I hope it will be ok.

Enjoying the shelter on the Inner Farne beach

The mother is never to far away.

A bit of ginger going on here.

A peregrine falcon on the Pele Tower

and a bit of Stag Rock Lighthouse to finish off my year.

I would also like to thank everyone who has joined me this year and thank you for all your votes for the blog awards.

I would like to thank David Steel and his gang for their help this year.

Most of all to Andy (crewman) for putting up with me 7 days a week, Tony (crewman) for putting up with everything that's been thrown at him and the girls in the booking office. If it was not for them we would not be here today, so a big thank you to Barbra, Louise, Ruth, Sue and Christine. Also to Ron who always knows when I'm lying to him because my lips are moving.

Cheers guys for all your hard work throughout the season. Your worth your weight in gold.

Here's to 2015 and I hope you all have a good one. Thanks from everyone at Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours.   

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Little Auk

I seen my friend Gary driving along the pier this morning to have a look through the Gulls and of course have another look for the Black-necked Grebe, but it was another bird today that stole the show.

A Little Auk was in the harbour and it was showing really well.

It was feeding near the steps at the end of the pier and came really close which thrilled all 4 photographers who were sitting on the steps clicking away. (including myself)

At first glance I thought it was not very well but after watching it for a while I realized it was just giving us a good show and I noticed as I looked at my pictures that it was eating the shrimps like the Black-necked Grebe was the other day, so it must have been in good health.

This is the first time for me that I have seen a Little Auk in the harbour and hopefully not the last.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Black-necked Grebe x2

I have been painting the boats over the last few weeks and its been really good weather considering the time of the year and today was not the best but we managed to get a good bit done.

While I was standing on the deck of the boat I noticed the Black-necked Grebe still in the harbour and it seems to be definitely coming in with the tide and today was no different.

It helps that the boat is up high on the pier as you can see a lot more, so I decided to give Gary a text to say it was back again. Not that he has seen it much this week.

5 minutes later here he was driving along the pier and with just a quick glance at each other I pointed to where it was. He gave me the nod and off he went.

He must have only been out of the car for 2 seconds when I received a text saying that there was 2 in the harbour now.

Excited, I put down the paint brush, slid down the ladder like it was a fireman's pole and rushed to the van for my camera.

After a few F's and C's I jumped into the van and drove home to pick up my camera, which I thought I had put in the van this morning. (Obviously Not) The way I was huffing and puffing to myself you would think that I lived miles away, but its only 2 minutes up the road so what was I moaning about.

Never mind I back at the harbour now with my camera ready and I managed to get both of them in the same shot which was really nice and later in the day one of them came really close. I also noticed that they were eating shrimps which makes me think this is why they come into the harbour when the tide comes in as the shrimps must come out of the mud then.