Sunday, 23 September 2018

Roseate Terns

I know the Roseate Terns are not on the Farnes but a good friend of mine has worked and studied them for many years now, and I could listen to him for hours and never get bored. The reason I decided to write this blog about the Roseates was because I have just seen a few Sandwich Terns pass the harbour while I sit on the boat waiting for the water to come in so I can get my guests. I reminded me that I never seen any this year on the Inner Farne, but there was a good few on Longstone Island before they left for warmer climates. The other reason is that they had a great season and they broke records once again, but most of all they are just a lovely seabird.

Myself and Andy were lucky enough to see a good few close up on the Longstone this season and it was really nice to see them with their young too. We managed to get close to some of them and it was really nice to see loads had been ringed.

I gave Tom, my friend and ringer of the terns a shout and he told the there were 118 pairs on the Coquet Island (near Amble) this year, the highest total since 1970 and they ringed 119 chicks, which is amazing news. 20 adults were also fitted with data loggers/tags to track their migrations. These will need to be re-caught to retrieve all the data but it will be exciting to find out the results for me next year never mind the guys who do all the hard work. Fingers crossed its all good news.

Over all it has been a great year for the Roseate Terns and I cant wait to hear the results when they return next year.

Monday, 10 September 2018

New Arrival

We have been waiting for a good while now but she is eventually here and she looks mighty fine too. Yes you guessed it, our new vessel "SERENITY"

She is the same hull as Serenity II but a little bit bigger and holds a few more passengers too. There is a few changes from Serenity II but nothing major really. We have raised the wheelhouse a little bit for better viewing and moved it back a little bit too. The toilet has been moved to give that little bit extra on the deck and we have added a couple more hatches on the deck for storage in the hulls.

We have also added an extra door on the port side just in case the harbour ever decides to put another set of steps in, which would a great help to all the boats. You never know it might happen one day and then hopefully there will not be as many delays as we have now when the tides are big. Miracles can happen honest....

While we are all excited about the arrival of the new boat and it is exciting times ahead, we are really pleased, chuffed and proud of Tony and Jimmy, who have passed their licences to become skippers.

Tony has been with us for 5 years now and has become a big part of the Serenity team so it just made sense for him to move forward and become a skipper. Since the arrival of Serenity III he has virtually looked after the boat anyway and he knows it inside out. Its been a big change for Tony and his wife to come to a village and fit in so well, but I suppose being a Fireman and the stress of that job it must have been the perfect time for a change. Now he has stress from another direction and its not from the boat but myself and my brother now. Ha Ha. Only joking....

Jimmy, arrived on the wrong boat and ended up in Seahouses working in a pub until he met my brother and he decided to join the team. Jimmy is from down under and to be honest for a young lad he has fitted in really well too. Being a bit sarcastic helps and I have to take my hat off to him for fitting in so well. This is Jimmy's second year and he loves the wildlife and was so keen to become a skipper too. Both Tony and Jimmy love the Farnes and all its wildlife so I suppose in a way its an easy stepping stone for them. Its not really but you know what I mean.

So on that note from everyone at Serenity well done lads we are proud of both of you.....Now get out there and get some work done. lol.

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Thursday, 30 August 2018

Risso's Dolphin and Sunset

On Wednesday evening we had the boat ready to go for our sunset cruise and with all the guests on board the boat we headed out of the harbour and towards the islands.
My crewman Chris was chatting to the guests while I steered the boat to the islands. When Chris came back into the wheelhouse he made himself a cuppa and sat down then all of a sudden he said I think I've just seen a harbour porpoise.

I quickly stopped the boat and waited to see if it would come back up again. We both kept on looking when Chris said there it is, but we knew there and then it was not a porpoise but a dolphin. All our guests were getting excited by now, and then it just disappeared. We waited for a little while and then it surfaced again. My jaw dropped to the deck and I ran back into the wheelhouse, grabbed my camera and started taking pictures. After it surfaced a couple of times, I looked a Chris and said I'm sure its a Risso's Dolphin. In fact I'm positive it is.

It was on its own and gently moving through the water very slowly only surfacing on occasions.  When we did get a good look at it you could see the white scars covered along the side of its body and of course the most noticeable thing about it was it's bulbous forehead with no beak. It also had  tall dorsal fin which was also covered in scars and I have later read that the more scars it has, the older the dolphin is, but to be honest in the heat of the moment I was not bothered how old it was but more excited about seeing such an unusual species. It was my first and if it was not for Chris spotting it in the first place I would never have seen it, so thank you Chris.

I have also found out that the last time a Risso's were sighted at the was back in September 2014, so if we were never out on a sunset cruise we would have never seen such a beautiful mammal, and the Farnes would have missed a great record. This is only the 7th sighting and is rare for the Farnes and the last sightings were in 1996, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2014.  I also received a text saying that Risso's were seen of Howick, St Mary's Island and Newbiggin in early July and I was also told that they are not keen on boats so they will avoid detection for long periods of time. This would make total sense and this is why we waited and waited before it surfaced again, but eventually we lost it in the evening sun so we continued with our sunset cruise with massive smiles on our faces. Well I was anyway.

During the cruise I could not stop thinking about how unusual looking it was compared to Bottlenose Dolphins and it made me realise what a special place this is and I get the opportunity to do it every day and as the sunset cruise came to the end we topped it all off with a cracking sunset over Bamburgh Castle on the way home.

I have to thank Chris for a great spot and to all our guests who joined us last night. Thank you and if I have the wrong dates or wrote something wrong please let me know as I would love to learn more.

Once again thank you for reading our blog and don't forget you can also follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram for lots of up dates. 


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Sunset and Skuas

During our sunset cruise on Wednesday 8th August, we stumbled upon a beautiful Great Skua (Bonxie) as we were heading to the Longstone Lighthouse. In fact it was our newest crew member to the Serenity Team, Chris who spotted it and causally asked me what was that bird eating. As I glanced over I saw a Great Skua feasting on a young Kittiwake. Yes, I know its not nice to see but its nature and was more bothered about the skua than the bird it was eating.

Now you might know by now that I do like skuas as there is just something about them that does it for me. That's sounds so perverse but not in that way of course. Its just the bird itself that I like and on the sunset cruise it was looking even better in the evening light. As we got closer and closer it was not bothered about us at all, but when we got a bit to close, it eventually did fly away but only went a short distance as it was not leaving easy food lying in the water and who can blame it.

After taking a few pictures and explaining to the guests about the bird, we continued with the trip around the islands while enjoying the beautiful sunlight on the seals, seabirds and of course a great sunset behind Bamburgh Castle. The light  (the golden hour) sometimes is just so lovely, it shows the

As you might already know I do enjoy the sunset cruises and if everything goes to plan you can't beat it ending with a cracking sunset behind the castle, and even if you don't get the sunset then there is something about the evening cruises I love.

Ok here is some pictures for you and sometimes I think the pictures explain things better than I can.

Once again thank you for reading our blog


Saturday, 11 August 2018

Goodbye Puffins

Saying goodbye is always hard, but it’s even harder saying goodbye to our beloved puffins that we have enjoyed watching so much this season.

However, this bittersweet feeling comes with a big smile as we have seen this amazing seabird mastering the daily challenges present in their colony life and meeting their achievement of raising their puffling (a puffin chick) successfully. It sure has been a good year for them.

A handful of our tommy noddies (how puffins are known locally) are still around the islands bringing food to the last of the chicks to rear, while bigger numbers have been spotted in small rafts of 5 to 20 puffins on the water. A sign that their winter migration to the north Atlantic has started. 

Therefore, the open ocean becomes the puffins’ home for the following 7 months of the year, where they live a solitary life and lose some of the bright colours on their beak, except for the distinctive orange colour in their beak and feet.

 In regard to the pufflings, it is goodbye for a longer time, as these strong chicks will spend around 2 to 3 years on the sea learning essential skills to survive. Hopefully they will return to the Farne islands, so we can welcome them home, while enjoying and sharing a close experience with the ‘clown’ of our seas.

Thank you once again for reading our blog and don't forget you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Its nearly over

Its that time of the year again when all the seabirds start to leave and we only have a handful of Guillemots left now and it very noticeable when you can only see bird poo on the rocks. It looks like the white cliffs of Dover but with the smell and this year it has been really bad at times. I keep on telling people its good for them, while I'm nearly gagging in the wheelhouse.

Judging by other years its been a very successful season and all the seabirds have done really well. Even the shags have bounced back a little bit which is really pleasing as they seemed to be hammered at the beginning of the season due to the beast from the east.

One good thing at the moment is that the Puffins, Kittiwakes, and Shags of course are still here which is great for everyone but I don't think they will be here for long as they are starting to raft on the water, which is a sign they are getting ready to leave.

So if you are thinking of seeing a Puffin before they leave then do it sooner rather than later.

Once again thank you for reading our blog and we will try to keep you all up to date with what's happening around the Farnes.

Once again thank you for reading our blog.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Two more days added to our popular Sunset Cruises

We have been doing the Sunset Cruises for a few years now and they have become more and more popular so we have decided to add a few more dates to our schedule. We don't want to over do it but we have added to extra days so I hope this fits in with your plans.

We will be sailing on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday's from now until mid September. We sail from 7pm to 9pm but as the nights draw in we will be going a little quicker every week so if you decide this is something you fancy doing then please give us a call or book online to reserve your place on the boat.

If you are not sure what entails......

We sail around all of the islands telling you about the history, the seabirds (when in season) the seals and the lighthouses. We will slowly cruise around the islands giving you the perfect opportunity to take a good picture of just to take everything in. After the trip we will head towards the beach and try to get the sunset going down behind Bamburgh Castle as we head home.

This trip might just be perfect for your needs. If you are not in the area for very long and want to see as much as possible while your here then this trip might just fit in with your plans.

We are only a phone call away or you might just want to book online either way we look forward to seeing you.

Tel: 01665 721667 during the day or 01665 720760 at evenings or you can mail us

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


When you are here everyday you tend to watch every little thing that goes on and looking at all the seabirds around the islands its been a good season so far and the Kittiwakes are no different. I have noticed that some of the Kittiwakes built their nests but never laid one egg. I'm not sure if this is the first year they have paired together or they were just not successful but these little things stand out for me. Overall I think they are doing really well and the weather so far this year has helped loads. Its not very often our garden grass gets brown up here but it has this year.

I do like the Kittiwakes and it will not be long before they start to learn how to fly and then after that its all over for another year. Where has this breeding season go too. It feels like 2 minutes since we first set sail and watched all the seabirds arriving back at the islands and now its nearly over. It must be an age thing or is it just me. Never mind either way its been a good one for all the seabirds and I even thing the Shags has sort of recovered too.

I did see a few nests the other day which the Kittiwakes were building and I was thinking to myself, "Its over mate why are you building a nest" but they seemed to be happy getting covered in mud building this nest for no reason at all. Anyway who am I to question what they do as they will know better than me.

I will post an update on how they have done when I get the final figures in but until then here is a few pictures for you.

Once again thank you for taking time to read our blog and hopefully we see you onboard Serenity sometime.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

New Serenity Catamaran on the it way

We are very proud to announce our the arrival of our new catamaran "SERENITY"

She was built in Canvey Island by Blyth Catamarans and she was transported by road to Amble Boatyard where she will stay for her final fix. We are hoping for about 8 weeks before she arrives at Seahouses, then after that she will be gracing the shores off the Farne Islands.

She is the same as Serenity II just a little bit bigger and of course some of the MCA laws have changed since Serenity II was built so she has a few different things but nothing major. At the moment she is in Amble which is grand as we can just pop down the road to check on her. The engines are being delivered very soon and they are the same as Serenity II which are IVECO'S 400hp each side or hull. Lots of little stuff after that so I will keep you up date on her progress but in the meantime here is a few pictures of her going into Amble.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Golden Hour

We do Sunset Cruises every Tuesday and Thursday from 7pm until 9pm(ish) and as the evenings close in a bit quicker every week, but this does not happen until the end of August into September.

If you ever think that work gets in the way of a trip out to the islands then this trip might be the one for you.
I love this trip and its great to see the seabirds in a different light too. The noise level seems to increase to another level during the evening as well and the place seems to be buzzing too.
We start our Sunset Cruises In May and they finish at mid September. We sail every Tuesday and Thursday from 7pm until 9pm(ish) and as the evenings draw in we start bit quicker every week, but this does not happen until the end of August into September.

Even when the seabirds leave its still a great trip and we try to end the trip by heading to the beach and watch the sunset go down behind Bamburgh Castle. 

I could go on and on about this trip but I will let me pictures do the talking and if you ever fancy doing this trip then we are only a phone call away.