Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Minkie Whale

It was one of the best days on the Farnes today with flat calm seas and beautiful sunshine, but what made it even better was the Minkie Whale that decided to circle the boat to give our guests a great show.

A gentleman said that he had spotted something like a dolphin in the water but I dismissed it straight away saying that it was a seal, but I had to back track as it broke the surface and I saw a Minkie Whale.

I could not believe it and I had to apologize to the man as he was right and I was so wrong, but the Farnes keeps on making a fool of me as every year it produces something new and different which is why I love the place.


It was only small but that did not matter at all, as it came to say hello again and again and again, so after a few pictures this is what we were (or I was) getting excited about, but after looking at some of the pictures I noticed some fishing net around it which was really sad and I just wished I could have jumped in to cut it off but I did not notice at the time. I would have probably got wrong anyway.

Such a shame.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Mixed Sightings

Its been a good few weeks around the Farne Islands with lots of things happening. The weather has been very kind to us, and we have been able to get out everyday which is always good.

Now we are lucky enough not to have to much rubbish around the Farnes but we do come across driftwood and balloons from time to time but this time we were really shocked to see a large object floating in the water.
As we got closer we could not believe our eyes as it was a fridge. It really annoys me to see things thrown into the sea to start with but whoever did this they a taking the mickie.

All you have to do is leave it outside your home and there is bound to be a scrap man passing and he will take it away for you. He makes a bit of money, it gets recycled and you have got rid of your rubbish, job done. For flaming sake don't through it in the sea.

Never mind we got rid of it for you... Andy (my crewman) stamping out the rubbish in the north sea..

Andy also saved a stunned Guillemot that landed on the boat. After a few bites of his hand we quickly checked to see if it was okay and off it flew but I think Andy came of the worst as his hand was pouring with blood. Ha it serves him right for taking the Pee out of me over the last few weeks.

On a sadder note we found a Guillemot struggling in the water and you could see it was not long for this world, so we put it on the jetty at Brownsman Island and told the rangers. Unfortunately we were told later that it passed away as it had not been cleaning itself properly.

I'll stop the doom and gloom now as we have been seeing the Bottlenose Dolphins again and again and again but we will never tire of seeing them that is for sure. This is a picture of the mother and her young one enjoyed the sun and loads of food that is around at the moment.

and of course the Bridled Tern has once again graced the Inner Farne.

The Inner Farne is well known for the Artic Terns dive bombing and pecking you on the head, but guys please don't ware hats like this as it breaks the Terns bills. Luckily we gave a hat to the person who had this, so they did not go onto the island with it, and to be honest they just did not know.

We we also stunned to see a Cormorant take a Eider chick, and as it tried to eat it all of a sudden it let it go and of it went. We might have been to close and scared the Cormorant or it just lost its grip but at least the chick got away. Thank you Mandy for this picture.

This season has been full of exciting sightings and hopefully we will see lots of Minkie Whales and some cracking birds soon, so our seabirds slowly start to leave the Farnes.

We are seeing big gaps in the cliff faces where the Guillemots have been and the puffin chicks are making their way into the sea for the first time. I will give it a few more weeks until nearly every seabird departs our shores.

I will keep you updated on their progress and here is the last couple of pictures before they depart our shores.


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Ringing Sandwich Terns

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Inner Farne the other day to watch the rangers ring Sandwich Terns.

Sometimes we take these guys for granted and we do not see all the hard work they do behind the scenes. As well as looking after all the boats that land and answering probably the same question over and over again from the guests that land on the islands, they have to be up early to do the most important stuff on the islands which is all the data.

They record the weather 4 times a day, they do all the bird counts, they keep the islands maintained and on top of all that they ring seabirds and monitor every mortal thing that goes on and all this is very important for the seabirds and the Farne Islands, so when I got the chance to watch what they do I jumped at it.

I arrived at the Islands at 8am and the guys were just finishing of their morning cuppa. We headed up to the Sandwich Tern colony where I meet Dr Chris Redfern at a table setting up ready for the ringing session.

He is head of the operation along with David Steel (Head Ranger) and he keeps an eye on everything that goes on. He also was writing all the ring numbers (Silver) down, along with the Darvic rings.

Darvic rings are to help the likes of myself, to be able to identify the letters a little easier, then I can report them back the David so he can add them to his records. This is only the second year they have used them on the Sandwich Terns and I was told they were hoping for them to last about 5 to 6 years and in this time they should be able get enough information from them to learn more about the Terns.

I know some birders out there who ring lots of birds will read this blog and think different, but from a person who has never seen anything like this before it was just amazing and I have the upmost respect to you all, but I suppose if your used to doing it all the time it becomes second nature, just like me with my boat, you just think nothing of it.

Anyway, the way the guys make sure they don't have any gaps in the silver tags they put it on, as it could get caught on the thinnest of things. The way they hold the bird. The care and attention they put into make sure they don't hurt the bird is second to none and I have to take my hat of to that.

Back to the event.

We slowly and carefully walked into the tern colony watching were we put our feet as we did not want to stand on any of their eggs or very small chicks. Once we were in, the guys started searching for the ones that were a bit bigger. The reason for this was that if they were to small the rings would just fall of them.

They got the first one and they wanted to get 32 in total.

One by one they carefully placed them into the box.

Birds eye view.

Putting the final touches to the Darvic ring onto the tern.

There we have it both rings attached checked once again and all good to go.

Looking good and nearly ready to fly.

These ones are ringed and ready to go back into the colony.

After an eventful morning I made my way back to the boat with a big smile on my face and I will be keeping my eyes wide open from now on to see if I spot any of these fella's. Thank you gang for giving me the chance to learn a little bit more.



Thursday, 10 July 2014

White Beaked Dolphins

On Tuesday we had just picked up from the Inner Farne and as we got around the corner to head home some other boats were going north. I realized that they must have had the Bottlenose Dolphins again but when I arrived I was gob smacked to see that they were 4 White Beaked Dolphins.

They are really really fast and they seemed to just glide past the boat with ease. Two went one direction and two another.

We stayed a bit away from them as we seemed to have a better view but when they did come close to the boat they showed really well.

They were not in the mood to hang around and before you know it they were on the way north towards Holy Island.

I did manage to get a few pictures but they were not very good sorry.

I have since found out that it is only the 12th record for them since 2004 and the 4th sighting since 2009.

No wonder I was buzzing afterwards.

This is becoming a record breaking year for marine mammals and long may it continue.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Not so Common (Seal)

On one of our trips out we saw a Common Seal on Longstone Island enjoying the sun. Now its not very often you see a Common Seal around the Farne Islands but its less common to see it with all the Grey Seals, as they tend to be on their own.

Anyway it was really nice to see and I know this is a short blog but I'm wading through lots of Bottlenose Dolphins pictures at the moment so now you know what my next blog is going to be about.

Here is a few pictures of the Common Seal and they are not mine sadly as my camera is broken but hopefully a new one is on its way. Thanks Stephen for the pictures.