Tuesday, 31 May 2011

What a week!

I have never known a month quite like it. Westerly winds nearly every day. If we are going to get any winds then this is the direction we want it, but day after day it just drives you around the bend.
Today was the first day that we had no wind and flat calm seas. Yesterday was just a pain. The wind just got stronger and stronger as the day went on. It was great going out and calm around the islands but as we turned around to head back to The Inner Farne for our landing, we got it head on. I was so pleased we had a great gang on board as they seemed to be enjoying themselves. 

On Friday morning with the west winds blowing again we saw 2 Spoonbills fly across the bow of the boat heading towards the land. At first glance I thought I saw 2 swans but after I shouted to Keith as we  were gob smacked to see these wonderful birds. Its a first for me and I was surprised how big they were. 

Today we saw 7 Knots, 12 Turnstones and a Heron. 

The birds are hatching fast and furious. Kittiwakes chicks are so cute. The Guillemots tend to hide their chicks alot more than the Kittiwakes. 
We are also noticing alot of feed in the water at the moment as you can see alot birds diving into the water. We even had a Puffin drop 2 sand eels on the boat tonight. 

With the calm seas today and all the feed around we were hoping to see some Harbour Porpoise but no such luck. 

What we did get was a Guillemot land on the boat. Bless. It hit the deck of the boat and it was stunned so Keith picked it up to put it back in the water. It was ok as it gave Keith a good nip.


A cute little Eider chick in the harbour.

If I have had enough of the winds, what goes through my dogs head as he sits and waits everyday to go to sea. I have to say he is a very loyal dog.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Kittiwake Update

Well I have to take my hat off to those little Kittiwakes, not only did alot of them survive the gales but they have started to rebuild their nests and we also saw a few mating again. 

This Kittiwake was stamping on the water logged nest to compack it down.

A couple of Kittiwakes helping each other out.

2 days later they are starting to look more like nests again.
Fingers crossed that's the end of the weather and these guys will give lay more eggs again. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Lucky Escape

A update after the storm. Well at first glance the birds look as though they have managed to brave the storm with only a few casualty's. The Kittiwakes are the ones that everyone was worried about as they nest so close to the waters edge, but after closer inspection they look as though they have made it. Yes we have lost a good few but I was expecting lots more. 
At 10.30 this morning I took a couple of lads back to the islands after they had a few days off. On arriving at the Wide Opens we noticed more Kittiwakes than first imagined.
I have to take my hat of to the birds. They are strong willed little things.

 A Kittiwake sitting proud after the storm.

A Kittiwake nest distroyed and the bird missing.

What a way to enter into this world. At least they are here to tell their story. (In their own way)

70 MPH Winds

It was the calm before the storm and when it came by god did it come.
All our thoughts were with the wardens and the birds. It's a critical time at The Farne Islands with all the birds eggs hatching.
The one thing that is in favour for the birds is that its a west wind and not a Northerly, North East or Easterly. If it had been that direction I think it would have been a disaster. We would not only be worrying about the birds but I would not have had much sleep as I would be checking the boats all the time.
Don't get me wrong i think we would have lost alot of birds but not half as much had it been the other way.

The harbour entrance at low water

The Inner Farne at 12pm

The Inner Farne at 5pm.

The Inner Farne at 8pm

The North Beach looking towards Bamburgh Castle

She's blowing a Hooli  

At 8.30pm

The view across Bamburgh Beach towards the islands.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Before the Storm

Well we had a lovely day on Sunday but with the forecast for 70 MPH winds, we all had the birds in the back of our minds.
My daughter Charlie has her sea legs at 4 years old and she keeps pestering me to take her to sea. So on Sunday morning she had her packed lunch, hat and coat on ready to go. 
Come on Daddy we have to get the boat ready for the customers. As we got to the boat we did not have anyone for our first trip so we decided to go for a fish until 12pm.

Bang.... first fish.  Bang again another fish. Great start but that was it. For over an hour we never even got a nibble.

That's it back to the harbour to pick our guests up.

After we picked up our guests we headed to the islands and then around to the Inner Farne to land.
After our lunch i decided to take Charlie to the island to have a quick look around.

An Arctic Tern sitting on her egg with a pebble beside her so the wardens can do their counts.

 An Arctic Tern dive bombing us.

A Mallard with her chicks on the walk way leading up to the lighthouse.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Bearded Seal

A rare Arctic Bearded Seal was found along a stretch of Beadnell Bay today. There have been no more than a handful of records of this species in English Waters in the last 100 years. Our next Water, Wildlife & Walking trip on 27th May with Northumbrian Wildlife Tours will offer a unique opportunity to see this rare seal if it lingers in the area as well as packed day taking in local seabird cliffs, tern colonies and a full guided walk from Craster to Seahouses.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lucky Lad

As I left the house early on Wednesday morning to move the boat out of the harbour because of the low tide I decided to go to The Kettle at The Inner Farne to anchor up. After cleaning the boat I got the opportunity to have a look around the Inner Farne. I grabbed my camera and jumped aboard the zodiac and headed over to the island. 
As I sat taking pictures around the cliff face I got a call to see if I wanted to help the wardens around the wide opens. I jumped at the chance and ran down to the jetty where I was meet the rest of the gang. 
When we landed at the West Wide-Open we stumbled upon a young grey seal. Jamie (A Warden) went to investigate and noticed that it was bleeding, but after a closer look it was only a scratch. 

Happily knowing that the seal was OK we headed up onto the top of the island.

I was amazed to see how pretty it was with all the Sea Campion. Yes, I see it from the boat all the time but close up it's just beautiful. 

As we walked around the island you have to be so careful not to stand any of the eggs as sometimes they are very well hidden, and most of all, you have to be very careful as the ground around the Puffins burrows can be very soft and you don't want to crush the burrows. We found an Eider Ducks nest but she had already left with her chicks. Jamie checked his record book and found out that she was sitting on 5 eggs. Fingers crossed they got away safe and sound.

After a call from the booking office I had to go. A quick call to David Steel to ask if he would pick me up I ran down to the waters edge to be greeted by David in a white costume. I thought it was a bit early for Halloween, but after chatting to him I found out that he had been spraying the grass to keep away all the weeds.

I like to thank David and all the gang for making it a morning to remember. Cheers Guys.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Hard Hat

Well it's Hard Hat time as those Arctic Terns are now starting to dive bomb. They have lots of eggs spread all over the walk way as you head up to the top of the island.
If anyone is going to the islands over the next month or two please be careful were you put your feet as we don't want any eggs or chicks stood on.
We have nearly every bird on eggs now so it will not be long before every bird will have chicks.

Arctic Tern Egg

Arctic Tern

I was also seen Oystercatcher Eggs and Ringed Plover Egg.

Oystercatcher Eggs

Ringed Plover Egg

We have also got our first Eider Duck chicks in the harbour. We did have a good few more but those Gulls got them.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Puffin Update

Now i know we all need the rain to water our gardens, grow the crops and help our birds but at this time of the year i just do not want the rain at all.
Its those little Puffins that are worrying me at the moment, with the heavy showers we have had over the last few days our Puffins burrows are starting to fill up with water. It also does not help with the seals rubbing themselves during the winter molting season and removing all the vegetation from the bank sides exposing the Puffin burrows to all the elements.
When the vegetation is around the burrows it helps to adsorb the rain water and does not tend to go down the burrows as much. Yes i know you can't help it at times and it is mother nature but i just love the Puffins and just don't like to see them die.
The Inner Farne has been ok because the water seems to run off the island a lot better than it does on The Brownsman Island.
Its a lot more flat on top of the Brownsman and they also have a pond on there to which has been over flowing with water, but over the last day or so they have managed to let the water run away which has helped a lot.

I love my job and i love the islands but i do have to take my hat off to the Wardens as they do a great job at looking after the islands, the birds, the wildlife and of course myself. Without the Wardens the islands would just fall apart.

I have to give Wez a big shout as i don't get to see a lot of things going on around the islands but he keeps me updated, and i do try to let him and the rest of the Wardens know if i see things as well.

You can follow myself and Wez on twitter for updates during the day. Wez @wezsmith  Myself  @thefarnes

 A Puffins burrow which is flooded.

 A Puffins burrow flooded and the egg left abandoned

Ahhh Bless. This Puffin was still sitting on its egg with the water up to her neck.

On a lighter note it's early days so hopefully they'll re-lay and it'll be a happy ending.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

April Update

We had our first Shag chick hatched on The Inner Farne Lighthouse cliff on April 29th, now a clutch of 3 in one of our earliest nests. With the first eggs hatched, lots more will continue to follow.

At least 2 Mallard clutches have hatched, with 1 clutch of 7 ducklings seen on The Inner Farne pond.

The Eiders are on eggs now and "Winnie", an Eider that always nests outside the Pele Tower door each year has now returned.

Kittwakes are now on eggs with the first ones found on the 28th April.

Sandwich Terns are now settled and Jamie (The Inner Farne Warden) spotted the first eggs on the 30th April.

Guillemots are on eggs and it will not be long now until we see our first chicks.

The Arctic Terns and Common Terns are now back in full force, so iot will not be long before you will have to wear your hard hats.

The Puffins are alot more settled now. They still continue to lay their burrows.

Guillemots along the cliff face at Staple Island.

A Puffin on the cliff face at the south side of Staple Island.

Bamburgh Castle in evening sunshine.