Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Kill

Yesterday (21/05/2016) we witnessed a Great Skua trying to kill a Herring Gull.

Yes, I know you might not think this is a great blog but for me this had to be blogged, just to show you the other side of nature.
It's not everyday you get to see a great skua close up but to witness one killing a herring gull, right in front of my eyes was something different. I have seen them before at the farne islands but not as close up as this one, and I have also seen them bully seabirds for their food which is what they are all about but to see one killing a gull for food is something that I have never witnessed before and a day I will never forget.

I have always been a lover of these birds and I think its their style and aggressiveness that I admire the most.
I know they see other birds with food and they pinch it and I know the other birds have worked hard to catch their food, and for someone to come along and pinch it but you have to take your hat off to them.
They don't just pick on small birds either as I have heard stories from other birders that they have seen  skua's  take down a gannet to get their food. Now you have to have some balls to do that as they are a big seabird but I suppose it's survival of the fittest and these birds just don't give up, so to see one the other day killing a herring gull it just goes to show you that will not stop at anything to survive.

I think the pictures will tell you the story better than I can and the fear in the gulls eyes tells you another story.

For more about these birds have a look here...

Friday, 13 May 2016

Another Aurora

We had another little showing of the northern lights again this week. It was not a great show but I'm not complaining one bit as they are always great to see.

I think this might be the last one as its getting really light now and it did not get really dark until midnight and it started to get light again by 2.30am so if we do manage to see another show it will have to be sooner rather than later.

So if you are ever in the area and you here about the lights then head to a dark place away from the street lights and you may be able to see them.

Stag Rock in Bamburgh is a good place or be lazy like myself and head to Seahouses beach just like the pictures below. I also think when the tide is out its a bit better, as it shows you some nice ripples in the sand and reflections too. 

Friday, 6 May 2016

St Cuthberts Chapel

On the 5th April was a momentous day for everyone associated with the Farne Islands as it was the day the chapel cross was put back in it's rightful place. After a 16 year absence it was great to see the cross in it's full glory as you walk up the newly laid boardwalk towards the chapel. 
St Cuthbert's chapel is a Grade 1 listed building and steeped in history, so it was very important to get a new cross erected as soon a possible. A donation box was placed in the chapel and the money that was raised went towards a new cross. 
A new cross was sculpted by David Edwick who also installed it with Nick Lewis who is the house steward from Lindisfarne. The old cross stood there for 160 years until it was blown off in gale force winds in the winter of 2000, but today it's back where it belongs. 

When I look up towards the chapel from the boat, I get the feeling that St Cuthbert would be very proud of this moment and so he should be as it's great to see the cross back where it belongs and history is once again rewritten. 
I think a big thank you goes to everyone who put money toward this beautiful cross and thank you for being part of this little bit of history.

The rangers mending the boardwalk towards St Cuthberts Chapel. Note no cross.  

The cross back where it belongs.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Guillemots on Eggs

On Saturday we noticed Guillemots on eggs at Staple Island and Brownsman Island and as we looked around we noticed not just one or two but a lot.
So there we have it, the season is definitely underway and we only have to wait for the next 40 or so days and we will have our first chicks of the season.
Exciting times are ahead and everyone at Serenity is really looking forward to it.

We also have had some dreadful weather lately and we have hardly been at sea, so this is why I have never blogged for a while.
I also took a cheeky week away to the sunshine and I could not have timed it better as I only missed one day at sea.
It was great to get away, but a real shock to the system coming back from 30 degrees to 1/2 degrees.

Serves me right eh..... lol.

Over the last few days we have seen Guillemots on eggs, a Gannet sitting on the cliff edge with all the Guillemots and not a care in the world, Kittiwakes building their nests, 3 seals with tags but I have to say the tags are dreadful as the numbers just rub off which is really annoying. Some dirty Puffins and a good showing of Bottlenose Dolphins on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday there was about 60 and Sunday about 15. Great to see and once again our guests had big smiles on their faces.

Fingers crossed this weather starts to behave itself and we have a good summer but sometimes you can get some nice pictures when the weather is changing all the time.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Mixed Easter so far.

It's been a mixed Easter so far, with all kinds of weather. Wind, Rain, Calm Sea's, Rough Sea's, Sunny and Overcast.
To be honest Easter was far to early and our seabirds are just not ready to settle just yet. In my last blog I said the the Puffins were back, but the second I said that, they disappeared again.
Since Good Friday there has not been any Puffins, Guillemots or Razorbills around the islands. It's like they knew the weather was going to change, so they decided to leave and come back when the weather is better. This is not uncommon as its tends to happen every year but because easter is quick this year people seem to think that everything should be here, but sorry this is not the case.

Never mind, we were treated to a good show of Bottlenose Dolphins for two days on the trot which kept our very cold guests smiling.
We have seen a single Greylag Goose knocking around the islands for a few days now and there still is a few Purple Sandpipers hanging on too. The Sandwich Terns are starting to arrive too and numbers are building up daily.
We also saw a female seal a wee bit bloody. I don't know what happened but there was lots a blood and it looks like her nostril is a little bit torn and maybe that's why there is so much blood around. She does not seem to be bothered about it, as my mam would say "its a scratch, get on with it".

Anyway, fingers crossed in the next few days everything will change and all our seabirds will be back and the islands will be buzzing again.

Here is a few pictures for you all.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Puffins are back.....and lots more

It's been a busy week in Seahouses this week with all shops, cafe's, bar's and restaurants getting ready for Easter, and they are not the only ones. We have had our boats have been inspected by the MCA (Marine Coastguard Agency) for our out of water inspection a few weeks ago and then the in water inspection was done on Wednesday. We have ticked all the boxes so we are ready to go for the season and I can't wait. We are allowed to sail through the winter but we are limited to how many people we can take during that time, but when the season starts again we revert back to our full carrying capacity. This happens every year and some things we agree with but others we don't but it keeps everything right and the main thing safe.

The National Trust Rangers are also back on the Farnes and they are also getting ready for the new season with lots of work to be done. A few new faces have joined the team this year along with some old ones so it should be a good season.
They are working really hard at the moment fixing the board walk, cleaning the jetty along with a list of jobs as long as their arms. You see it's not all glamour for the rangers.

So there you have it, everyone has been really busy getting ready for the season and fingers crossed the weather will be kind to us and we all have a great season.

Myself and Andy have been back on the water this week, and it's been very cold but it's nice to be back out again and Serenity II needed a good run too. We also have brought our booking office back down the harbour after her annual paint job and that's about it, we are good to go.

While on the water this week we have seen lots of things happen from the weather changing very quickly, to one day thousands of seabirds and then the next day none.
I know the seabirds are nearly ready to settle but it will not be long that's for sure.
The cliff's were covered on Guillemots and the buzz about the place was unreal but today there was hardly a Guillemot to be seen. The Puffins also arrived back at the islands with a handful then within a few hours there were thousands. The Inner Farne was littered in Puffins today and they were all cleaning out their burrows, making sure it was all tidy and clean for the new chick arriving. We have also seen Guillemots, Puffins and Razorbills mating so it won't be long and we still have all the Terns to arrive yet, but when they do we will be in full swing once again. 

It's really nice to see the Islands buzzing once again and I know I see this every year but hand on my heart I honestly still love to see it every year and it never gets boring at all.

So there you have it, a little update about our life around the Farnes and hopefully I will bring you as many updates as I can this year.

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The Pinnacles 

 Staple Island full of Guillemots

  Staple Island with Brownsman in the back ground
 Turnstone and Purple Sandpipers

 Longstone Lighthouse

A very small seal but I wanted to show you her tail as she spread it out. This shows you why they can swim very very fast. 



This Kittiwake was in a real scrap

My crewman Andy, casually birding with one hand. Show off. 

 The board walk being fixed by the rangers

 The rangers doing a great job getting the Inner Farne ready for the new season

and of course the Farne Islands favorite the Puffin