Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Coquet Island

A trip out to Coquet Island with Puffin Cruises puffincruises to see Roseate Terns was the last item on my weekends agenda. (I can highly recommend the boat trip if you are in Amble, or indeed Northumberland.) A Tern that I had never seen before, and was desperate to add to my life list. Coquet holds 90% of the UK's nesting Roseate Tern population, so it was nailed on that I would get to see them. But before I share my pictures of them, I'll show you what I saw on my journey out to the island.

There were lots of other Terns, Guillemots and Puffins once again, all around. Eider ducks were here too. The sea was a bit choppy, but thankfully I had my sea legs on and stood for most of the trip.

A rare, lesser spotted me on the boat.

Coquet Island and it's lighthouse. The island is closed off to the public and is maintained by the RSPB. A boat cruise is the only way to get up close to it. All good news for the important populations of breeding birds here.

Grey Seals were a common sight from the boat and around the island. They have always been an exciting animal to see. These guys were really inquisitive and at times it felt like we shouldn't be there. Dozens of them popping up to see who we were and what we were doing. They put a smile on my face that's for sure.


One of the many Puffins over the boat.

Common Tern (I think) making off with a fish.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Terns on inner Farne

Inner Farne is the largest of the Farne Islands and home to thousands of Terns. The majority of these are the Arctic variety, but there are also, Common and Sandwich.
You can here the cacophony of noise when you are approaching on the boat, and it increases the minute you step off on to the island. The Arctic Terns are very protective of their young and their nests. A lot of them choose to nest on or next to the path that winds around the island. As soon as they see someone step across their imaginary boundary they leave the nest and attack. Screeching and dive bombing. A canvas hat is essential.

The Arctic Tern

To me it looks as if their feet don't grow after birth. They seem very small for the size of the bird. I'm sure there is a reason for it. Nature is good like that.

Sat on one of the many fence posts around the island. The blue rope is to stop members of the public stepping off and unwittingly onto a nest. They make nice perches.

I thought this bird was actually quite restrained, until it drew blood from my finger, while attacking my phone. If I look scared, it's because I was.

A much more civilised selfie.

The Common Tern with it's longer legs and black tip to the bill.

The Sandwich Tern. Quite different in size (larger) and has the black bill with a yellow tip and black legs.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Atlantic Puffins

I spent a lot of my time watching and photographing the Puffins while in the Farnes. It's hard not to stare in wonder at their cute faces and clown like eyes. They look rather sad and it makes me want to give them a big hug and say everything's going to be okay.
On a serious note, they are remarkable birds. Spending the majority of the year at sea. Only returning to land to breed. The young Pufflings will spend the first few years of life out at sea, where their wings are perfectly adapted to swimming under water. In fact when you see them fly you can understand why they spend most of their time on the water.
These were taken on Staple Island and from the boat as we went around the island.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Staple Island - Part Two

I tried to divide my time between the different species on the island, but it was very difficult to pull myself away from the Puffins that were flying in at all angles.

The Kittiwake is my probably favourite gull, so it was nice to get up close to these birds around the rocks, but also to see them at their nests. Sadly, they're a 'red status' bird these days. So hopefully an abundance of sand eels this year will help their breeding and improve their numbers.

 A nice sea breeze made it easy for them to hang in the air.

On the nest with the future generation.

There were a few Rock Pipits on the island. This one did its best to try and avoid me.

A bird that I was only able to add to my life list just a few months ago, was in abundance on Staple and around all the Farne islands. The Shag is smaller than a Cormorant, and in my opinion a lot better looking. I love that starry green eye and the hair tuft. Another bird now on the red list, with only 10 breeding sites around the UK. It's a bird I was happy to get up close with, and by close, I do mean within a few feet.

A nice contrast of adult and juvenile. Note the eye is blue and not green on the youngster.

In more familiar territory.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Staple Island

Once on the island I didn't really know where to begin. So many birds and only an hour on the island. It's not a very big island, but I really could have spent hours here. The sun was out, its was relatively warm and what I had been waiting for was all in front of me. I just had to get on and do what I came here for. Hold the camera up and press that button for as long as I liked. Absolutely perfect.


Being able to see so many Atlantic Puffins close up is probably the abiding memory I will have. I've seen them before, but not in such numbers at close quarters. Truly breathtaking.

Sand eels are what the Puffins eat. They're pretty clever at stacking them up too.

Sunning themselves on the rocks were the Razorbills. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Staple Island - The approach

The morning had finally arrived. My day trip to the Farne Islands. I had been constantly checking my weather app for days, and it was at least looking dry. That's all I wanted. As I went to pay though I realised that the wind was also quite an important factor. If it's too windy with too much swell we wouldn't be able to land on Staple Island. After a tense fifteen minute wait, we were all systems go.

We set off on time at 9.30am. The islands look deceptively close from the shore. They're actually 2-3 miles away, and that takes quite a while by boat. I think it probably took 30 minutes to get to Staple, when it looked like it should be 10.

Glad Tidings 3. My boat for the day.

Bamburgh Castle seen from the boat.

Inner Farne and the lighthouse in the distance.

Eider Ducks will be one of my lasting memories of my time at Seahouses and the Farne Islands. A bird that I usually struggle to get on my year list is in abundance on the seas here. In the harbour at Seahouses on the boat journey across, and around the Farnes too. There are oodles of them. Super looking birds, and most had young with them.

Approaching Staple Island and you can see the cliffs heaving with Guillemots and Razorbills. Kittiwakes in the air, and an extraordinary smell.

I didn't really know where to look first, such was my excitement. I kept catching birds out of the corner of my eye as they took off from the sea. Others were flying in front of us. I was trying to bring the camera up every now and again but to no avail as everything was moving so fast. I need to remind myself that I am 41 and not 21. Should I be feeling this excited. The grin on my face was telling me YES!

The best I could do with a Puffin in flight shot from the boat.

A solitary Puffin on Staple Island as we approach.

Razorbills looking fantastic in the sunlight. My wishes for good weather had been answered.