Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Farnes - Staple Island

Sunday did indeed prove to be a washout. We spent the morning at Washington WWT, a new reserve which none the less has already attracted breeding Avocet. It's a very hospitable reserve with good tea, good food and good birds - it was just a shame it rained non-stop.

When we got to Bamburgh the huge castle was invisible, shrouded as it was in low-lying cloud, so we retired to the bar.

Monday morning was dull and grey but thankfully clear of rain and with the promise of a few spots of sunshine later on, fingers crossed. We'd booked a day trip to the Farne Islands (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-farneislands/) with Billy Shiels (http://www.farne-islands.com/) in January, luckily picking the day between two 'rained-off' when in fact the weather allowed for sailing and landing on the island :) Suffice to say we were quite excited by the prospect.

We had picked a full day excursion along with 63 others, all equipped with various pointy bits of technology including a fine collection of long lenses, it being a very good spot for photography. The first island the boat stopped at was Staple Island.

The bird that first catches the eye and frankly holds it for some time is the Puffin:

















A very endearing member of the Auk family. This one is 'wing stretching', a prelude to flight or part of a display:
















Perching on a rock and watching the massed ranks of birders (click for a closer view):














Proceeding to the burrow with some fresh sand eels:



















Telling everyone and everything else to 'go away':

















Next to the burrow (and with some brief sunshine):




















The Puffins are indeed fabulous little birds and a joy to watch as they go about their business. As noted before however there are also plenty of scavengers about, including this Lesser Black-backed Gull sniffing around the burrows:














The other 'gull' present on the island in good numbers is the Kittiwake:














Beautiful birds, very noisy and when you hear one you can tell immediately where the name comes from :) This one was making a right racket and showing its (surprisingly) orange tongue:














I had no idea. Finally a 'head shot' to better see the colour contrasts and indeed the red outline to the eye, truly a very beautiful bird:

















Of course there are large numbers of Guillemot present on Staple Island. This one was flapping its way through the crowd:




















And here one displaying with a sand eel, I presume demonstrating its ability to act as a provider:














Also on the island, a number of pairs of Shag, including this couple, she on the nest and I presume displaying as part of the pair bonding:















We spent about ninety minutes on Staple. The smells and the sounds created strong memories but we had more to come. Next stop Inner Farne. On the way, we passed a Grey Seal colony:
















Some of the seals proved very curious:







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