23 May 2007

Trip Report (part2): The Farne Islands Northumberland

Peregrine's Birding Facts In 2006 there were 28,652 Breeding Pairs of Puffin on the Farne Islands.

I arrived in the evening at Seahouses the coastal village from where you take the ferry to the Farne Islands. The Farne Islands lie two to three miles off the Northumberland coast midway between the fishing village of Seahouses and the magnificent Castle of Bamburgh. It is one of the most famous Sea Bird Sanctuary in the British Isles. I didnt have a Bed and Breakfast booked for the first night so I walked around the village looking for one. Nearly everyone was full but eventually I found one which was highly over priced yet the owner assured me it was worth it. It was out of the seventies! mock wood floor made from linoleum and had a completely sterile atmosphere. It pained me to pay the bill in the morning. I wish I had gone to Bamburgh.

I went for a walk down to the harbour and heard a few Eider calling. What a nice sound.

I then heard this consternation of sound and looked over to see this woman feeding about thirty eider which were racing to the slipway to be fed, the pitter patter of their feet as they raced up the slipway was very amusing. The light wasnt good for photography so I headed to about the only decent place to eat which I had been recommended "The Olde Ship Inn". It sits just above the harbour and as you can imagine is nautically themed!! Food was ok and much to my surprise the vegetables were under cooked not a complaint one normally has when eating out if anything it is generally the opposite.

In the morning I went back down to the harbour and I found the booths which offered tours to the islands. I had been told to use Billy Shiels MBE as his family had been doing the trips for 60 years. It costs £25 to get out to the islands and a fee of £7.50 payable to the National Trust on landing on Staple Island. The ferry was the MV Glad Tidings one of seven that ply the route. While I waited until 10.00am for the ferry to leave I was watching this eider diving to the bottom of the harbour and coming back upto the surface.

I was enormously relieved that the weather was calm as I had been dreading a rough crossing as I do not fare well on the sea. The last time I went out in my fathers shared fishing boat I had to be put ashore with my youngest son Charlie, who also doesn't do rough sea conditions. The crossing is fairly quick the only annoying thing was again it was very overcast. There were Gannets, Fulmar and Guillemot on the way out and as we got closer little rafts of Puffin on the water. There were a number of bird photographers on the boat all taking shots of the birds and seals on the rocks.

We were being given a running commentary by Billy Shiels about the history of the islands and the wildlife. Then we landed on one of the islands for an hour where there were the greatest opportunities to photograph the birds. I wish I had more time and nicer weather but there will be another time.

I started by taking portrait shots of Puffin, Shag, Razorbill, Kittiwake and Black headed Gull.

and then I tried flight shots of the Puffins and Guillemots.

Then it was time to go it must have been the quickest hour I had ever experienced and before I knew it I was back in Seahouses. It was probably one of the best birding moments of my life. I just love it when you can get so close to birds that you normally dont see very often. I can't wait to go back.

If you are a birder and haven't been there before it is an absolute must and highly, highly recommended.


Andrew said...

This brings back very fond memories and its well worth staying longer. A good excuse to go back but beware the Killer Terns.

Soulbirder said...

I doubt I will see a Puffin this year so I am real envious of you!

Lovely photos.