Monday, 25 July 2011

Big Sea's

Well you can tell the kids have broken up from school for the summer holidays, as we have got bad weather. At least we had sunshine. So here is some pictures of the waves crashing over the break water.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Leucistic House Sparrow

I had a couple of friends on board the boat not so long ago and they said that they seen a white sparrow on Holy Island. The first thing I said was "Did you get a picture". They said no, so I proceeded to take the Michael as they said it was at The Manor House beer garden.  "I think you have had to much pop".

A week later a gentleman said that he had seen a white sparrow on Holy Island. The first thing I said was "I don't suppose it was in The Manor House beer garden by any chance. To my surprise he said YES and have I seen it. I said that I had heard about it from a friend but thought they had to much to drink.

As we both laughed, he then presented me with a picture of the white sparrow. I could not see the picture very well, so I asked him to send it to me.

After a closer look at the picture I realized it was a Leucistic House Sparrow.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Recent Highlights

The breeding season is at the end now, with many birds leaving the islands for their first winter.

As our birds leave we are starting to get a few interesting birds to pass by.

The first highlight was a Honey Buzzard which drifted pat the Inner Farne on the 18th May and only the 9th for the islands.

A Red-breasted Flycatcher arrived on The Brownsman on 26th May. Only the fourth ever spring record.

We have has 3 Spoonbills so far and the first 2 were spotted flying past the bow of the boat on the 28th May and I nearly fell of the seat. Great sight. The other was spotted on Longstone Island on the 15th June.

A Black-headed Bunting was discovered on Staple Island on 31st May and showed well for a few hours. This was the fifth bird for the islands following birds in 1971, 1999, 2004 and 2009.

A Black Tern on the Inner Farne and good numbers of Manx Shearwaters flying north through Staple Sound.

We were also lucky to see 2 Great Crested Grebe's flying north. Over the last few days we have seen a few Harbour Porpoise, Bottle-nose Dolphins, 70 Common Scoter's,  Purple Sandpiper's, Knots, Turnstone's, Golden Plovers, top count was 90+, and 8 Arctic Skua's.

Yesterday on the way home about 5pm we saw 2 Red-throated Divers flying south and 1 Great Northern Diver also flying south.
Things are now starting to move around so hopefully we will get to see some nice things soon.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sunset over Bamburgh Castle.

I tried for over a week to get a picture of the sun going down beside Bamburgh Castle and every night a cloud covered it, but it eventually it came out to play. I have taken some pictures with different settings, so if they are rubbish then please let me know where I'm going wrong.

As most birds leave others arrive.

After a mixed breeding season we are now near the end. The winter seems to drag on at times, but the summer just seems to fly by. Not that it has been must of a summer really. We  had to contend with westerly winds day after day, rain, gales and sun. Mind the sunny days been few and far between.

The birds are the ones that have had to brave 70mph winds, pouring rain that's not only flooded the Puffins burrows but the wardens have had to put boxes over the Arctic Terns nests so the chicks don't get washed away. Yes we did lose a good few but if it wasn't for the wardens and the brave birds themselves we would have lost loads this year. When we did have the 70mph winds thank god it was westerly as if had been any another direction god only knows what devastation it would have had.

To be honest this must have been the worst summer for a long as I can remember for wind, rain and seas. I do love my job and the thing I love about it most a that everyday is different, but when your battling the tides, wind and rain it just knocks the stuffing out of you. As I'm writing this blog I can feel myself looking up to the sky a praying for some nice weather and not just a one day wonder but a steady run of it.

Ah fingers crossed he heard me.

Enough about the moan, back to the birds.

The Guillemots have almost gone with a few stragglers left. I noticed a few Guillemots the other day were still sitting on their eggs so I will have to keep and eye on them. They might have lost their first eggs and had to try again or maybe they are just late, but I'm not sure.

A lot of the Kittiwakes are now flying around but a lot of chicks are still in the nests. This is because the eggs were lost during the strong winds but because it was still early on they tried again and were successful.

The Razorbills have done very well and it seems the figures are up on last year.

The Puffins are a little down but its because of the rain flooding the burrows.

I could go on and on but until I get the true figures I'm just speculating, but over all I think we have had a very successful season.

As all the birds are now starting to leave the islands we have now noticed the Waders are starting to return.
We had over 100 Knots, 160+ Golden Plovers, 20 Turnstones and our first Purple Sandpipers today.
A big plus was a single Spoonbill on the Longstone Island. In fact all of the Waders were on the Longstone Island today. We do tend to see them other places around the Islands but most of the time it is the Longstone.

There are still thousands of Puffins on the Islands as well as Terns, Eiders, Razorbills and more but in a few more weeks they will be all gone.

Don't get me wrong as I love all the birds that arrive for the breeding season, but in some ways I like the it more when the birds are gone as we tend to have our eye's wide open as it won't be long before we have our first migrant passerines and that's when the fun begins. 

Hopefully I will get the final counts for the year and I will post it.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Sunset Cruise 2

Just a few pictures from Saturday night, as we watched the Wildlife, Jumplings and The Sunset Thank you to everyone who joined me. I enjoyed your company very much.

Sunset with Holy Island in the background

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Holy Island Tour

When we do our Holy Island Trip we have to work the tides so their is enough water to get the boat into the harbour. As our dates are set for the year we always pray that its good weather. So on Sunday afternoon we had a trip bound for Holy Island for a few hours and it was just beautiful. I love to go up to Holy Island as I can get a chance for a bit of bird watching myself.
About half an hour before we were due to leave the fog came rolling in, and after a scorching hot day and flat calm seas I could not believe what I was seeing. The problem with the Farne Islands sometimes is the Dolerite Rock, with the hot sun on the cold rock it sometimes produces the fog, which is a real pain as you can go south to Beadnell and it will be beautiful, so after debating on whether to go ahead with the trip I quickly phoned a friend on Holy Island to see if they had fog up their to. 
As I put the phone down I gave it the thumbs up as it was all clear up there. 
We left the harbour and headed towards the Inner Farne and it was still thick fog. After chatting to the guests about the birds and the Inner Farne we steamed up to the Megstone to see the seals. We had only got a few hundred yards away from the islands when it started to clear. It was a bit surreal as the fog was just on the bottom and the top of the island was clear.

After arriving on Holy Island we went for a little wonder around. We never saw anything to shout about but as we headed back to the boat we saw 4 Ringed-Plover chicks. They were cute little things and I was surprised on how well they blended in with the pebbles on the beach.

Ringed Plover chick hiding beside the pebbles.

Standing Tall.

After leaving the jetty we cruised towards Black Law Rock. As we approached the rock we encountered 22 Female Red Breasted Mergansers and 2 Males, a Seal, 12 Cormorants, loads of Arctic Terns and over a thousand Eider Ducks. Alot of the Eider Ducks we going through the colour change which looks quite nice but also a bit weird.

After leaving we steamed towards Stag Rock in the hope we would see some Harbour Porpoises but no such luck. The only thing we saw was some big waves crashing upon the shore but it gave me some nice pictures from the seaward side of Stag Rock and Bamburgh Castle.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Baby Puffin

Puffins are just a beautiful bird and they must be one of the most pictured bird ever. I don't know what it is about the Puffin but they are lovely.

When they arrive at the islands we see them more on the water than on the land and as they start to settle they start to look for their burrows.

Puffins use the same burrow every year and the lay a single egg in the bottom of the burrow. Most birds mate on the land or rocks but the Puffins always mate on the water.

They are known as Sea Parrots and this is because of their colorful beak but they are also known to the locals as a Tommy Noddy and this is because of their head action when they walk.
During the winter period they lose their brightly coloured beak and it turns to a dull grey. Also during January and March they become flightless as they are casting their feathers but they are still able to swim down to catch food to enable them to survive.

When the chicks are born they stay down the burrow until they are big enough and strong enough to leave their burrow. When they do leave its always in the night as it enhances their chances of survival but on this occasion this little Puffin decided to break the rules and leave during the day.

As I watch it for a about 45 minutes while our guests were on the island I realised it has moved about half a mile away.

It was just lovely watching a young chick stretch its wings, wash itself and even dive, even if it was only for a few seconds and then it made me realise that it is a beautiful bird and you can't blame people wanting to come and see the glory of this amazing bird.

Here is a few pictures of the Baby Puffin or Pufflings as some people call it, heading out into the open waters.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Tall Ship Returns

Over the last few weeks I have been helping a friend hauling crab and lobster pots. We have been starting at 2.30am and getting finished at 9.30am and then I rush home grab a quick shower, change and dash back down the harbour. It has made it a very long day but the one bonus has been the sunrise's, the birds, a minke whale and the passing ships.

Early on Wednesday morning we saw a Tall Ship in full sail and it looked beautiful. It was not until we got closer that I realised it was the same Tall Ship that was here a few weeks ago. I found out that it had been in Blyth harbour for a weekend but it has also been at Eyemouth for running repairs.

The ship is a youth trust ship and at the moment there is a secondary school on board.

Here is some pictures of the ship and the kids hard at work.