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 31 July 2016


I love the Kittiwake. I've probably mentioned before that it is one of my favourite gulls. It is a very elegant bird, both in flight and at rest. There is something rather appealing about it's dark eye and yellow bill. Definitely more friendly looking than the Herring and Lesser black-backed gulls. It's also one gull that I can pick out quite easily in amongst other gulls.

I had a great time watching these on the North East coast, where there were many nesting birds. Once again this is yet another of our birds that has been given 'Red Status' and has been struggling in recent years. This time possibly down to a lack of sandeels, their main source of food for the young. Hopefully they will bounce back and increase their numbers.

Hanging those black legs and feet in flight.

Lovely gliding flight and with those unmistakable black wing tips.

Very photogenic even from the back-side.

Thursday 28 July 2016

Northumberland Razorbills

Around the majority of coasts of the UK at this time of year you'll have a pretty good chance of coming across a Razorbill on the rocks. They only come to shore in the summer months to breed and raise their young, before spending the winter in the North Atlantic. Part of the Auk family, which includes Guillemots and Puffins, they remind me a little bit of the penguin. A very upright stance and large deep bill. I had a great time watching these around the Northumberland coast recently.

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Roseate Tern - Coquet Island

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Roseate Tern was a pretty certain life tick at Coquet, and so it proved. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best day for light and it with the boat moving up and down so much with the swell, it proved quite difficult to get any really good shots, but I was quite happy with what I did get. It at least leaves something to improve upon, as I intend to go back next year.
In summer, the adults underparts have a very nice pink tinge to them.This is where they get their name. That unfortunately is not clearly visible in any of my shots.

It can be seen slightly, if you look very closely at this first one. The two birds in the picture are both Roseate Terns. The bird on the right has a slightly more visible pinkish tinge to it's front. It's certainly not bright white.

Here in flight it is even less visible, but what stunning birds. So sad that there were only around 90 pairs (representing 90% of the UK's nesting population) on Coquet. Fingers crossed they had a productive breeding season.

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.