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