Thursday, 30 August 2018

Risso's Dolphin and Sunset

On Wednesday evening we had the boat ready to go for our sunset cruise and with all the guests on board the boat we headed out of the harbour and towards the islands.
My crewman Chris was chatting to the guests while I steered the boat to the islands. When Chris came back into the wheelhouse he made himself a cuppa and sat down then all of a sudden he said I think I've just seen a harbour porpoise.

I quickly stopped the boat and waited to see if it would come back up again. We both kept on looking when Chris said there it is, but we knew there and then it was not a porpoise but a dolphin. All our guests were getting excited by now, and then it just disappeared. We waited for a little while and then it surfaced again. My jaw dropped to the deck and I ran back into the wheelhouse, grabbed my camera and started taking pictures. After it surfaced a couple of times, I looked a Chris and said I'm sure its a Risso's Dolphin. In fact I'm positive it is.

It was on its own and gently moving through the water very slowly only surfacing on occasions.  When we did get a good look at it you could see the white scars covered along the side of its body and of course the most noticeable thing about it was it's bulbous forehead with no beak. It also had  tall dorsal fin which was also covered in scars and I have later read that the more scars it has, the older the dolphin is, but to be honest in the heat of the moment I was not bothered how old it was but more excited about seeing such an unusual species. It was my first and if it was not for Chris spotting it in the first place I would never have seen it, so thank you Chris.

I have also found out that the last time a Risso's were sighted at the was back in September 2014, so if we were never out on a sunset cruise we would have never seen such a beautiful mammal, and the Farnes would have missed a great record. This is only the 7th sighting and is rare for the Farnes and the last sightings were in 1996, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2014.  I also received a text saying that Risso's were seen of Howick, St Mary's Island and Newbiggin in early July and I was also told that they are not keen on boats so they will avoid detection for long periods of time. This would make total sense and this is why we waited and waited before it surfaced again, but eventually we lost it in the evening sun so we continued with our sunset cruise with massive smiles on our faces. Well I was anyway.

During the cruise I could not stop thinking about how unusual looking it was compared to Bottlenose Dolphins and it made me realise what a special place this is and I get the opportunity to do it every day and as the sunset cruise came to the end we topped it all off with a cracking sunset over Bamburgh Castle on the way home.

I have to thank Chris for a great spot and to all our guests who joined us last night. Thank you and if I have the wrong dates or wrote something wrong please let me know as I would love to learn more.

Once again thank you for reading our blog and don't forget you can also follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram for lots of up dates. 


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Sunset and Skuas

During our sunset cruise on Wednesday 8th August, we stumbled upon a beautiful Great Skua (Bonxie) as we were heading to the Longstone Lighthouse. In fact it was our newest crew member to the Serenity Team, Chris who spotted it and causally asked me what was that bird eating. As I glanced over I saw a Great Skua feasting on a young Kittiwake. Yes, I know its not nice to see but its nature and was more bothered about the skua than the bird it was eating.

Now you might know by now that I do like skuas as there is just something about them that does it for me. That's sounds so perverse but not in that way of course. Its just the bird itself that I like and on the sunset cruise it was looking even better in the evening light. As we got closer and closer it was not bothered about us at all, but when we got a bit to close, it eventually did fly away but only went a short distance as it was not leaving easy food lying in the water and who can blame it.

After taking a few pictures and explaining to the guests about the bird, we continued with the trip around the islands while enjoying the beautiful sunlight on the seals, seabirds and of course a great sunset behind Bamburgh Castle. The light  (the golden hour) sometimes is just so lovely, it shows the

As you might already know I do enjoy the sunset cruises and if everything goes to plan you can't beat it ending with a cracking sunset behind the castle, and even if you don't get the sunset then there is something about the evening cruises I love.

Ok here is some pictures for you and sometimes I think the pictures explain things better than I can.

Once again thank you for reading our blog


Saturday, 11 August 2018

Goodbye Puffins

Saying goodbye is always hard, but it’s even harder saying goodbye to our beloved puffins that we have enjoyed watching so much this season.

However, this bittersweet feeling comes with a big smile as we have seen this amazing seabird mastering the daily challenges present in their colony life and meeting their achievement of raising their puffling (a puffin chick) successfully. It sure has been a good year for them.

A handful of our tommy noddies (how puffins are known locally) are still around the islands bringing food to the last of the chicks to rear, while bigger numbers have been spotted in small rafts of 5 to 20 puffins on the water. A sign that their winter migration to the north Atlantic has started. 

Therefore, the open ocean becomes the puffins’ home for the following 7 months of the year, where they live a solitary life and lose some of the bright colours on their beak, except for the distinctive orange colour in their beak and feet.

 In regard to the pufflings, it is goodbye for a longer time, as these strong chicks will spend around 2 to 3 years on the sea learning essential skills to survive. Hopefully they will return to the Farne islands, so we can welcome them home, while enjoying and sharing a close experience with the ‘clown’ of our seas.

Thank you once again for reading our blog and don't forget you can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Its nearly over

Its that time of the year again when all the seabirds start to leave and we only have a handful of Guillemots left now and it very noticeable when you can only see bird poo on the rocks. It looks like the white cliffs of Dover but with the smell and this year it has been really bad at times. I keep on telling people its good for them, while I'm nearly gagging in the wheelhouse.

Judging by other years its been a very successful season and all the seabirds have done really well. Even the shags have bounced back a little bit which is really pleasing as they seemed to be hammered at the beginning of the season due to the beast from the east.

One good thing at the moment is that the Puffins, Kittiwakes, and Shags of course are still here which is great for everyone but I don't think they will be here for long as they are starting to raft on the water, which is a sign they are getting ready to leave.

So if you are thinking of seeing a Puffin before they leave then do it sooner rather than later.

Once again thank you for reading our blog and we will try to keep you all up to date with what's happening around the Farnes.

Once again thank you for reading our blog.