A Debut trip to the Farne Islands

4 May
Kittiwakes getting frisky by _pauls
Kittiwakes getting frisky, a photo by _pauls on Flickr.

The breeding season has definitely begun on the Farnes

With school back and day off I decided to take my first trip to the Farnes, in anticipation of trip next month with the family. I wanted to check out the suitability of the trip for my four year old and her three year old nephews.

I opted to take the tour with Serenity as I liked the idea of their catamaran as a stable base for viewing and photographing on the water, and ended up doing the 3 hour tour including an hour on Inner Farne.

Shagged out?

Shag

As I’d visited the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth previously, I had a good idea of what to expect from a seabird colony in breeding season and I wasn’t disappointed. Huge numbers of guillemots and kittiwakes nesting on the sheer cliffs and a healhy population of puffins standing guard outside their burrows or fishing on the water, and lots of shags on nests or sunning themselves on ledges. I was surprised that there were so few razorbills.

Guillemots

Guillemot City - Staple Island

In the middle of the island on the grass and everywhere in the skies around were terns… arctic, sandwich and common. Too early in the season for them to be dive bombing visitors yet but they were certainly getting pretty close. A few eider were sat on nests – the females extremely well hidden in the long grass, and a pair of shelduck were a surprise. The only other species I saw on the islands were black-headed, common, greater-black backed and herring gulls, oystercatcher, turnstone and a pair of mallards.

Puffin

Puffin

A few dozen grey seals were hauled out on the rocks and floating around Brownsea Island and offered great closeup views.

The home of Grace Darling

Longstone Lighthouse

In all we spent around an hour and a half on the water touring all the islands and getting very close to the cliffs offering fantastic views, before landing for an hour on the island and then motoring back to shore Рin all 3 hours and £13 well spent.

Birds seen : Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern, Eider, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Mallard, Shelduck

Mammals : Grey Seal

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