Sunday, 5 December 2010

Classic Film.

Another Classic. I'm just glad i have a catamaran and not a coble.

A blast from the past.

This is a classic old film from The Farne Islands. The music is something from a Alfred Hitchcock film.

Thank you guys.

I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to all the wardens who have helped Serenity over the season, especially David Steel and Jason Moss and for all the information you have provided us with. 

Well, that's the season over for the Wardens and as they pack their bags to head home they leave the islands to its own devices. If they have any sense they will be booking a well deserved holiday, and who would blame them. After the last month of appalling weather, with all the gales and the snow i think i would be putting my towel on the sunbed first.

Thank you guys and we all look forward to seeing you next season.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Andrew, Toby, Helen, Chris, Martin, Keith, Barbra and Jane.    

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Winter Wonderland

As the sea's have been a bit rough over the last week or so and what with being in bed with man's flu i needed to get out but wait a minute what's this white stuff. As we all know the snow has hit the North East for the first time in 17 years in November, but i needed to get out.

I decided to give the boat a run out to the islands just to see what was around.

After a quick phone call to Keith to see if he wanted to join me, we headed out to the islands.

We had hardly left the harbour when we had 4 Common Scoters fly north over the boat. As we slowly steamed out passing a few Guillemots sitting on the water, we looked across towards the land we saw the beauty of what the snow does to the landscape. Just Beautiful.
As we reached the East Wideopen were we saw a Peregrine Falcon sitting on a stump of wood watching and waiting for his lunch. Just around the corner we came across 8 Long-tailed Ducks, 10 Teal and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers.

We decided to head towards the outer group of islands to see the seals and anything else.
Upon arrival we were greeted by a Merlin sitting on the Brownsman Tower and the island was covered in seal pups.
Just beside the Brownsman was a single Black Guillemot in winter plumage sitting on the water.

Back towards the Inner Farne we passed about 30 Little Auks and loads of Eider Ducks.

As we headed back towards Seahouses the wind picked up, the sky went black and then the snow came down, but it was a nice end to the day.

Friday, 19 November 2010


A combination of weather, high seas and tides means that no trips will get out this weekend. Shame as the lads on The Farnes have been recording good numbers of Little Auk this week with 352 passing on Wednesday. There are sure to be some stragglers, often found in Staple Sound between islands, hopefully some will linger till when we get our next tours out.
In the meantime please follow the link to the website if you would like to contact us to book one of our Winter Birdwatching Trips.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Seahouses Desert?

All the action was on the mainland today, one of the few times in the year that all the wardens from The Farnes were keen to get off the islands as a male Desert Wheatear was relocated on the beach just before the end of the last row of seafront houses in the village. This typically late migrant from North Africa that normally resides in rocky desert habitat was first found and photographed on Sunday. If it stays around till the weekend it will be an extra bonus for any visitors coming for a Winter Birdwatching Tour.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

First Winter Birdwatching Tour - Sat 6th November

We couldn't have picked a better day to start our first season of Winter Bird & Seal tours around the Farnes and Holy Island, bright sunshine, calm seas and big Northumberland skies made for a great backdrop to the day and the wildlife didn't disappoint either.

Using Serenity II our purpose built catamaran we headed straight north to Holy Island to catch the tide. Keith our on-board wildlife guide picking out small numbers of Long-tailed Duck including some stunning males as we went.

As we reached the end of Ross Back Sands with the tide dropping we were able to manoeuvre in close to many of the roosting wader flocks on the sandbars and islands at the entrance to the National Nature Reserve. Oystercatcher,Redshank, a good size flock of Bar-tailed Godwit all put on a great display. A single Knot was picked out amongst the crowd and a Red-throated Diver in the vestiges of summer plumage entertained passengers off the starboard.

With the tide dropping we moved back south close to the beach, benefiting from the access afforded by a catamaran. A small flock of Common Scoter dived in the waves and we soon picked out five Slavonian Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe amongst the breakers. We added another five Slavonian Grebes as we moved back opposite Budle Bay, as well as double figures of Long-tailed Duck.

The second part of our four hour tour took us out to the Farnes, an altogether different place in winter. As we moved through Staple Sound we found small numbers of Little Auk, the smallest of our auks and a regular winter visitor. With the weather changed a few days later over 1700 were counted passing by the Farnes Wardens.

After some close in views of adult and pup Grey Seals and two encounters with two different Peregrines it was time to head back to shore after a great first trip. A fantastic start to the winter season and we're all looking forward to see what the weeks ahead will bring.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Seals City

It was a little quiet on the seal front but all of a sudden there are hundreds everywhere.
We have over 300 seal pups now and they are the cutest things I've ever seen. It was beautiful at sea today, so we were able to get the boat really close to the seal pups.
We went to Staple Island first where all the cows are gathering getting ready to give birth, along with the other cows who have already given birth and are now feeding their pups some milk.

The wardens spray the seal pups with different coloured dyes so that they can identify them when they were born and also be able to do a seal count. Don't worry but the dye comes off when they moult.
The wardens spray them every 4 days and every 2 weeks they change the colour of the dye. This also enables them to see if they have lost any during bad weather.

After that we headed across a place called the Humber which is a jetty on The Longstone Island.
When we arrived we moored the boat along side the jetty, switched the engines off and just sat there watching the seals swim around the boat.

As the customers took pictures, Martin (my crewman) decided it was the perfect time to offer the customers
cup of coffee or tea,

Even though it was a lovely day it is November and does get cold out there, so a nice cup of coffee does wonders to warm you up.

After that we headed back towards The Inner Farne passing 2 Long Tailed Ducks and a Peregrine hunting some pigeon's and a few Little Auks sitting on the water.

A nice end to a sunny day. 

I would like to say a big thank you to Chris and Martin for making the boat look really clean after giving it a big scrub down and to those who joined us on our trip today.

Thank you guys.

Seal Pup
1 week old
Seal City

Friday, 1 October 2010

Catch of the day

Well we are back after a 6 days off. I just wish this weather would calm down and give us a sporting chance to get out and marvel the wonder of The Farne Islands.

British weather I suppose.

Iit was a beautiful day today. The sun was shining and the seas were calm.

As we let the ropes go and headed out of the harbour we came along 5 Great Northern Divers all heading north.
A little further out we came across 10 juvenile Guillemots and 2 juvenile Puffins all feeding. As I looked at my echo meter I noticed that the water was just full of feed. This must be the reason why they are staying around the area. What's the point in leaving the area and heading out deep into the north sea when all this food is on your doorstep.
As we arrived at the islands we spotted  50+ Sooty Shearwaters flying north over Knocks Reef and on the West Wideopen we saw a Peregrine.

Now I know when the wind blows it brings the birds in but i just wish it would blow enough to let us get out to see all this. Don't get me wrong I was really enjoying this but i wish it was everyday and not once a week.

All day long we were spotting all kinds of birds. Now i'm not the best at spotting birds as I'm still learning but sometimes you just don't see them as if I'm concentrating on steering the boat and watching out for reefs and rocks I'm not bothered if I miss the odd bird. That's when my crewman comes into his own.
There he is talking to the guests one minute and the next he has spotted a Pink-footed Goose flying north.

As we dropped our customers of on Inner Farne for their one hour visit we went to the west of the island for a little fishing.
Bang - straight away he caught a mackerel. He decided to slice a bit of the fish and use it as bate to entice something else.
As I sat back in the chair with a cup of coffee I heard a shout.
"Andrew come quickly I think I have a big fish here"
I ran out onto the deck I saw his rod bending over double and I knew there and then it was a big one, and not only was it a big one it was fighting like hell.
Now what was a little bit of fishing for his tea turned out to be a battle of the big guns. Needless to say he won. As we pulled it along side the boat their she was a Tope or a Dog fish as we used to call it.

You Beauty

OK you won

There is only one winner
Well there it is. Catch of the Day.
As we marvelled at the size of the thing we had to let her go.

It does not end their as last week I encountered something a bit special too.
I have divers out at the Blue Caps diving with the seals when a seal came across to the boat.
As we lay there I put my hand into the water thinking that it might come across to say hello.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would but then over it came and there I was scratching it, patting it and playing with it.
Its was just like playing with a small puppy dog. Just amazing. I will have a video of it soon for everyone to enjoy.

Playing with the seal

Having a look at the camera

A bit to close to my camera thank you

Other birds we saw today.

1 Merlin
4 Teals
10 Velvet Scoters
5 Sandwich Terns
17 Guillemots
6 Brent Goose
12 Red-throated Divers
32 Barnacle Goose

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Minke Whales

The morning started just fine today as the second we got out of the harbour we saw 2 Great Northern Divers fly south over the boat and then a little bit further on 10 baby Guillemots feeding in the water just before the islands.

As we arrived to the islands and i was just about to start my speech when i noticed a Peregrine sitting on the West Wideopen watching all the birds fly around and then all of a sudden up she went and bang, she caught a  pigeon. I did not even get a chance to tell the customers about the bird and she flew away with the bird in her mouth.

As we steamed across the Staple Island we saw a  few male Cuddy Ducks back to their full colourful plumage.

About half way to Longstone Island  we saw a few Gannets, Terns and Gulls feeding then all of a sudden we saw 2 Minke Whales break the surface. We turned and headed towards the Crumstone Island to get a closer look at these beautiful creatures up they came again but there was not 2 but 3. We think it was Mam, Dad and young calf but we were not totally sure as they were a bit away and with the seas a little to choppy. As they headed south we had to turn back as they were getting to far away.
Oh well its supposed to be a bit better weather over the next few days so hopefully we might get a chance to see them again. Finger crossed.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

When the west wind blows

Well it was blowing a gale again today but this time it was from the west but we still got to sea. Not to say it was the best but after the S.E. gales last week, west was good and we have had a lot of birds over the last few days.

Over the last few days i have never had my binoculars of my eyes as their has been so many things to spot. The only thing that is really bugging me at the moment is that my new camera has broken so it's off to be repaired.

I have lost how many times i have turned around automatically to pick up the camera to get a good shot then realize its not there. Dooh!!

Today must have been the worst day for not having the camera as the wardens went over to Staple Island to see how many fulmers chicks had been eaten by our Eagle. Up it went over to Brownsman Island.
As the wardens went back to Brownsman Island the bird flew back to Staple but as the winds were really strong the bird landed right beside the waters edge.
As we slowly moved the boat towards the bird i quickly got on the phone to tell the other boat to come quickly. When they arrived they were amazed how big he was and then all of a sudden he got up and flew up high just as if he was showing off.
Oh what a amazing sight. I looked over to the other boat and all i could see was these cheesy grins on their faces. Yes they were pleased.

Well here is a list of all the other birds we have sighted over the last few days.

Over 500 Golden Plovers
1 Peregrine Falcon
1 Rockpipit
Over 60 Artic Terns
Over 50 Oystercatchers
10 Curlews
20 Redbreasted Maganzers
7 Great Northern Divers
20 Godwits
2 Artic Skuas
4 Dunlins
10 Guillmots
16 Pint Footed Geese
2 Puffins
2 Harbour Porpoise

Thursday, 9 September 2010

We are back

Well it's been 4 days since we have been to sea and it seems to be a long 4 days.

We have had some huge sea's from the South East which has battered the islands. It was followed by heavy a swell which made it impossible to get out to sea.

As the days have gone by the winds have dropped but the swell was still there. We watched the seas today as the tide changed and decided today was the day.

As people started to arrive at the harbour you could see that they wanted to get out to the islands as they had been here all week and never got a chance to get out.

At last we were out of the harbour and our first port of call was The Staple Island.

All we could here is wow as the eagle had moved and the customers could not believe the size of the bird. I think we had caught it in the middle of his lunch as his wings were flapping around and then they were curled around his head to hide his meal. A shag or a fulmer who knows but he seemed to be enjoying it.

After that we headed off to The Longstone Island were we seen about 200 Golden Plovers take off. Two seconds later we were face to face with a big Heron. On Longstone Island alone we encountered Golden Plovers, a Heron, Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, Dunhils and Knots.
If this is what the wind brings to the islands then who knows what we will see. I bet the wardens have seen loads over the past few days.

As we steam off towards the The Inner Farne we come upon loads of Grey Seals all taking shelter on the north side of the islands. There must have been about 100 which is always nice to see.

After we landed on the Inner Farne for an hour we slowly take an wonder back to Seahouses harbour.
I would like to say thank you to all of our guests who chose to join us today and i hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
From everyone at Serenity.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

It's back

The white tailed eagle is back to the islands. Hope it stays for a while but at the moment the only people that will see it will the wardens, as we have south east gales at the moment. I think this will be here for a while. when the wind drops the seas will still be big so hopefully we will get out on Thursday.

I bet the wardens are having fun out there (not). At least they will be able to watch some birds flying past and not have the boatmen hassling them with catching ropes. In saying that it will be like having a few days off enjoying what they love to do. (Bird watching)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Eagle Update

Well the Eagle has put smiles on a great many peoples faces over the last few days, but to our disappointment it left late Thursday afternoon.
Tthe Fulmars are probably relieved as he had been eating them.
I say HE as i have just found out that's what the birds sex is. He is about 4 months old and is the smallest of them all from the litter. 19 Birds were released on the 20th Aug from the East Coast of Scotland and the strong winds that came from the north on Saturday had pushed him down to The Farnes.

We also had a Albino Shag on Wednesday which was just amazing as it is just once in a life time opportunity to see.

If the Eagle comes back i will let you know asap.

King of the Castle
Look at me

Saturday, 28 August 2010

White Tailed Eagle

Well well what can i say. Bank Holiday Weekend and we saw one of the most beautiful birds i have ever seen and one i would have never expected to see at The Farne Island a White-tailed Eagle.

Now i know it's the largest UK bird of prey but as i have only seen pictures before i did not realize how big they are, and this one was a youngster. As i manoeuvred the boat closer and closer to it,  i just could not believe my eyes the size of it.

I quickly grabbed my camera as i did not want to miss this opportunity of a picture as i knew i would probably never see this great creature at The Farnes again.  I stopped the boat at the right angel, opened my window and took a picture. Bingo got it, but the Eagle never moved so i just kept on clicking and clicking just in case my pictures were not that good. Then i noticed that the bird was tagged on both wings and ringed. The tags were bright yellow and had the letter 'V' on it. It also had a satellite tracker on its back. Well that's what it looked like anyway.

As i was snapping away the bird decided to fly away and as i sat back into my seat i heard a gentleman say to his daughter "Well i hope you enjoyed that as you are a lucky girl to see such a great bird at The Farne Islands" She replied with "Yes daddy but will i still see a Puffin"
Kids eh!

As we steamed away to another island we watched the bird fly away then all of a sudden it turned and landed on Staple Island. I quickly picked up my phone to ring the lads on the islands. "Sorry this phone is turned off" again i tried another number "Sorry i'm not here at the moment" Well I'll try another number. It rang and Tom from the Inner Farne answered.
All i could say was get yourself across to Staple Island as there is a ........signal gone. Typical.

Well I did get in touch with the lads and they did get to see it so they were very pleased. Fingers crossed it will still be there tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Puffins are still here.

Well i have never known the Puffins stay as long. We only seen 4 today but they should have gone a good while ago. Mind I'm not complaining though as they are still a great bird to see. I will give it a few more days and they will be gone for good. I will have to ask David Steel (Head Warden) at The Farnes if he knows when the last puffin was recorded to be still here. I do know that they have been known to come back to the islands later but to stay as long as this who only knows.

I'll report back with my findings soon.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Well the puffins are still here which is great as they seem to leave when the school holidays start so at least the kids get to see them. I think it was about the 27th July last year that they left so i just hope they stay a little longer.

The weather has not been to bad over the last few weeks, so fingers crossed it keeps up.

Over the last 2 weeks we have been keeping our eyes open for the odd bird or two which you don't really see very often. About a week ago we saw 2 Guillemots on a ledge on the south of Staple Island. We were a little shocked as all the Guillemots have left a long time ago.  As we have watched them day after day we noticed that their was a chick below the mother. On the morning of 4th Aug we noticed that the last Guillemot family had finally gone.


Purple Sandpipers
1 Harbour Porpoise 

Monday, 26 July 2010

Harbour Porpoise

Today was just lovely. I took the boat out into the bay at 7am because of the tide. My first customers were not until 10.30am so i had to sit around for a while but this was not a problem as the sea was like glass. After i had cleaned the boat ready for the day i noticed something in the distance. Was it my eyes, as it was so sunny that their was a glare on the water but no it was 2 Harbour Porpoise. I quickly started the boat to closer to inspect and i got closer it was. The Harbour Porpoise are a bit shy so as i got closer they changed direction and went the other way. After that i just watched them from a far.

When i picked up our first customers i told Keith (My Crewman) what i had seen and the first thing he said was to watch out for the rest of the day because the seas were that calm it would be easy to spot them. Sure enough we had not got to the Islands and Keith spotted another Harbour Porpoise. Now if they were the same ones we don't know but it was just nice to see them.

As a lot of birds have gone now it was very pleasing to see.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Beautiful Day

Dunlin, Knot & Grey Plover
Golden Plovers
What a beautiful day today. The sun has shone all day and the sea's have been flat calm. With a lot of the birds going now it's time to spot the odd rare bird passing. Over the last few days myself and my crewman Keith have been lucky to see some great things.

On Wednesday we saw a Hummingbird Hawk moth fly past us on the bow of the boat. Then about an hour later we saw Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers.

Today we saw a 2 group of about 50 Golden Plovers and about 20 Knot.

Just hope we keep seeing things as its makes our day and the customers too.

Monday, 21 June 2010


On the 7th June a visitor to The Inner Farne killed an Artic Tern. I could not believe what i have heard. The man decided to take a cane from the ground which was marking birds and take a swipe that the bird hitting it on the wing thus killing it and leaving 3 chicks to fend for themselves. This is the birds home and not the man's and all the Tern was doing was pecking him because he was near her young. Any mother would protect her young. So he killed one bird with a stick what a man eh. He did not just kill a bird he killed the family as the young chicks will not survive either. This man should never be aloud back to The Farnes or the village again. This is my living, my home and the birds so please in future don't come back.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Birds Everywhere

Another amazing day at The Farne Islands. Seas were calm and the sun was shining. Lots of the chicks have been born now and some are really big. The Inner Farne is buzzing at the moment with birds flying everywhere. If anyone has not been before then you must go before all the birds leave. You will just be amazed as i still am every year.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

the farnes

The islands have been amazing latley. Birds everywhere and they are starting to hatch now. The weather has been great and its been a pleasure to be their at the moment. Jsut hope this keeps up.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Typical Bank Holiday

Well you can tell its Bank Holiday weekend as the wind arrived late Saturday evening. The weather was ok on Saturday but we woke up to alot of wind on Sunday and Monday. Some boats did go out on Monday but we did not. Fingers crossed the weather looks as though it calming down so we should get back out there tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Amazing Day

Well it was an amazing day today with flat calm sea's and thousands of sea birds everywhere. The Inner Farne Island is just buzzing at the moment. All the birds have all arrived now and a lot are starting to mate and even some have laid their eggs.

I don't know if this is a good thing as it's still April and i'm a little worried that they might leave quicker than usual. Well we will have to just wait and see.

Head Warden David Steel is in his 9th year now and i have to take my hat off to him for doing so.

Well another day tomorrow so hopefully it will be a bit busier as it been very quite lately.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Farne Islands

Well the weather has been really good over the last few weeks, which makes life a lot easier for me.

As a Skipper of Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours its great when you get good weather and flat calm seas as you can take your boat close in so your customers can see all the wildlife. At the moment it does not matter to much as the seabirds are everywhere. I must admit i see this every year and it still amazes me. Their are thousands of birds around the Farnes and what a beautiful site.

The only thing that concerns me at the moment is that a good few birds are on eggs already so i just hope that they don't leave too early.

Well this is my first blog so i hope i can do a good job for you all.