Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What a year 2014 was.....

What a great year for being on the water 2014 was and I'm hoping and praying it is the same for 2015.

The year started with some dreadful weather but luckily for the people living in Northumberland we never really had it as bad as the guys on the south coast.

I always remember watching the news and seeing all the floods everywhere and thinking that I'm really lucky living where I do.

People tend to think that because I live up north that its really cold, wet and miserable but in fact they could not be more wrong. For some reason Seahouses seems to get away with everything. Yes we don't get the hot weather you get in the south in the summer but its really nice and pleasant here. We don't get hardly any snow and if we do it tends to be gone in a day or so and for some reason we don't get a lot of rain either and that has something to do with the Cheviot Hills.
The more and more I think about it we are really lucky here and that's the way I like it.

During the bad weather period and trying to get the boats ready for the season we had a Grey Phalarope for a good while at Stag Rock and it was giving everyone a really good show and for me I could not have started the year of better with a cracking bird and one so accommodating.

During the bad weather myself and the family went on holiday to Cape Verde where I saw some cracking birds and the one that topped the bill was the Cream-coloured Courier and when I went back a bit later I saw my first Pilot Whales and Brown Booby.

After my holidays it was back on Serenity II to start my season's adventures around the Farnes and once again it produced it all.

The Bottlenose Dolphins stole the show this year and they wowed myself and made a lot of my guests very happy.

Then there was the phone call from Laura who was on the Inner Farne saying that I could go out and see the Bluethroat after the day was over.

I could not drop Andy (my crewman) of quicker to get back out to see this beautiful bird.

After that we had the charming Lolo Williams onboard the boat with his film crew. Ron our skipper for the diving boat could not help himself and he photo bombed Andy. A very funny moment for us but not for Andy. You had to be there.

Just after they had finished filming and got back to the harbour the Bottlenose Dolphins arrived again but they were on a time schedule so they did not go back out to see them.
Ron decided to go out and he grabbed Sue who works in the booking office for us and the look on her face made my day.

Thanks for helping us this year Sue. Unfortunately, all the other girls in the booking office never got a chance to see them and they were really disappointed but fingers crossed for next year.

We had some great Sunset Cruises and with some really good company too.

I was also invited out to the Inner Farne to watch the guys doing some ringing which was really interesting and it was nice to see the rangers doing their, behind the scenes work instead of just catching my rope. Thanks guys for letting me enjoy this experience as I will never forget it.

We had a cracking Minkie Whale around the boat but over all it was a very quite season for the Minkie's.

but I did have the pleasure of witnessing a basking shark around the boat.

I also witnessed fish jumping out of the water near the Pinnacles and after talking to David and Laura from the Farnes we come to the conclusion that it was a young seal swimming past them and that why they were jumping out of the water.

We had a couple of great winter wildlife trips and the weather was kind to us to. The Long-tailed Ducks, Little Auk and the Red-necked Grebe were the stars of those trips but that's not to say that seeing hundreds of Oystercatchers take off together was not special.


and to finish the season off we have had a Black-necked Grebe and Little Auk in the harbour.

I have also been out over the last few days with trips around the Farnes and noticed lots of seal pups around and loads are new borns too. The seals are slowly starting to move closer and closer towards the Inner Farne and the Wideopens and who can blame them as those Islands are a lot more sheltered.
This seal pup below was on the end of the Longstone Island so I hope it will be ok.

Enjoying the shelter on the Inner Farne beach

The mother is never to far away.

A bit of ginger going on here.

A peregrine falcon on the Pele Tower

and a bit of Stag Rock Lighthouse to finish off my year.

I would also like to thank everyone who has joined me this year and thank you for all your votes for the blog awards.

I would like to thank David Steel and his gang for their help this year.

Most of all to Andy (crewman) for putting up with me 7 days a week, Tony (crewman) for putting up with everything that's been thrown at him and the girls in the booking office. If it was not for them we would not be here today, so a big thank you to Barbra, Louise, Ruth, Sue and Christine. Also to Ron who always knows when I'm lying to him because my lips are moving.

Cheers guys for all your hard work throughout the season. Your worth your weight in gold.

Here's to 2015 and I hope you all have a good one. Thanks from everyone at Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours.   

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Little Auk

I seen my friend Gary driving along the pier this morning to have a look through the Gulls and of course have another look for the Black-necked Grebe, but it was another bird today that stole the show.

A Little Auk was in the harbour and it was showing really well.

It was feeding near the steps at the end of the pier and came really close which thrilled all 4 photographers who were sitting on the steps clicking away. (including myself)

At first glance I thought it was not very well but after watching it for a while I realized it was just giving us a good show and I noticed as I looked at my pictures that it was eating the shrimps like the Black-necked Grebe was the other day, so it must have been in good health.

This is the first time for me that I have seen a Little Auk in the harbour and hopefully not the last.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Black-necked Grebe x2

I have been painting the boats over the last few weeks and its been really good weather considering the time of the year and today was not the best but we managed to get a good bit done.

While I was standing on the deck of the boat I noticed the Black-necked Grebe still in the harbour and it seems to be definitely coming in with the tide and today was no different.

It helps that the boat is up high on the pier as you can see a lot more, so I decided to give Gary a text to say it was back again. Not that he has seen it much this week.

5 minutes later here he was driving along the pier and with just a quick glance at each other I pointed to where it was. He gave me the nod and off he went.

He must have only been out of the car for 2 seconds when I received a text saying that there was 2 in the harbour now.

Excited, I put down the paint brush, slid down the ladder like it was a fireman's pole and rushed to the van for my camera.

After a few F's and C's I jumped into the van and drove home to pick up my camera, which I thought I had put in the van this morning. (Obviously Not) The way I was huffing and puffing to myself you would think that I lived miles away, but its only 2 minutes up the road so what was I moaning about.

Never mind I back at the harbour now with my camera ready and I managed to get both of them in the same shot which was really nice and later in the day one of them came really close. I also noticed that they were eating shrimps which makes me think this is why they come into the harbour when the tide comes in as the shrimps must come out of the mud then.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Black-necked Grebe

On Monday Andy, Tony and myself spotted a Grebe in the harbour but as we were painting the boats and we never had our bins with us to get a closer look, we never gave it a thought of the kind of grebe it was until I gave text Gary and he told us it was a Black-necked Grebe.

Chuffed to bits with what we had seen, I eventually got a few pictures of this little beauty, but they are not the best.

We also noticed that it tends to come into the harbour when the tide comes in. This might just be a coincidence so I will keep a check on the tides from now on and see if it is true to form.

It is a lovely bird and again a lifer for me.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Thank You

This morning I was rudely woken by my kids jumping up and down on me shouting Happy Birthday Daddy, and if you know me I'm not a morning person. Give me half an hour then I'm fine, but what can you say to the kids when they are excited for me.

I dragged myself out of my warm cost bed, stumbled down the stairs and into the living room, where the kids were standing beside the chair with present's on it.

The look on their faces was just great to see and the grumpy old sod that stood in front of them had gone, so I sat beside them and started to open my present's.

I got some great gifts from everyone and it was not my normal things I usually get like socks, pants etc, but a quality coat, a good book and some lush chocolate.

I was really pleased with everything I got until I opened my emails and as I read that I has been shortlisted for the UK Blog Awards.

Now that's what I call as birthday present.

If it was not for everyone voting for me then I would have never got to this stage, so a big thank you to everyone who has voted, as I don't do this blog for money or anything like that, I just do it because I like doing it and if you enjoy reading it then that is my reward.

Well so far its been one of the best birthday's I have had for a very long time and everyone out there who is getting older, "just like me" can't be arsed with their own birthday's will understand what I mean by that, so to be even shortlisted for this award is totally amazing.

I don't know when the awards are just yet, but it looks like a trip to London and I have also read the other contenders for the awards so I don't hold much hope.

Once again, thank you to everyone who voted for me and I will keep you all updated.



Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Grey Seal Trip 23rd November

We did a Grey Seal landing trip on Sunday 23rd to the Longstone Island and the weather was good until the wind picked up later on.

We steamed out towards the Farnes and I had to go back to Knocks Reef to see if the Grey Phalarope was still there but sadly it was not.

We got some pictures of the seals and a few Mallards near Knocks Reef but that was it so we decided to go across to Staple Island.

On the way across to Staple we saw 3 Little Auks on the water but the light was dreadful and the wind was picking up. We all managed to get some good pictures before we headed across to the Longstone.

On arriving at the Longstone we were greeted by loads of seals in the water.

The guys got off the boat and went to take some pictures of the seals and scenery.

The Longstone is a very rocky island so you have to be very careful and have some good footwear as it is very slippy in places.

We intended to be there for two hours but the wind picked up and the boat started dancing at the jetty so after 1 hour 15 minutes we had to leave. A bit disappointing really but it could not be helped.

We did see a young pup which was moulting and a few other seals enjoying the sunshine.

We left the Longstone and headed towards Staple Island to where it was sheltered so we could get a cup of coffee.
While we were there we saw some Turnstones and a cracking Purple Sandpiper posing in the sunshine.

We had decided that we would go to Stag Rock again so see if we could find the Long-tailed Ducks and anything else was there.

As we were just about to leave Staple Island we had a Little Auk turn up and boy oh boy did it show well.

I don't think anyone on the boat would have a bad picture as this little fella was more bothered about us at all and it just washed and groomed itself while we floated beside it enjoying it in its full glory.
At one stage I heard someone say it was to close for them to get a picture due to the size of their lense. Now that's how close it was.

After spending quite sometime with this little seabird we steamed across to Ross Sands before slowly moving down to Stag Rock.

The Long-tailed Ducks did not show as good as they did the day before but it was still really nice to see them.

After arriving at Stag Rock with high hopes we were a bit disappointed as all we saw was a few Eider Ducks. Not that there is anything wrong with them at all but after the other birds we were hoping for something special. Oh well another time maybe.

As the sun was setting behind Bamburgh Castle we headed back to Seahouses and I think a good few people will have lots a pictures to sort through after this trip.

Once again guys thanks for joining me and hopefully I will see you again sometime.