Thursday, 2 June 2011

Farne Islands - 1st June 2011

If you've never visited the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast then can I suggest you go as quickly as possible? I've just been for a day's visit there and they are unbelievable. Birds are everywhere and, as far as I know, there's nowhere in Britain that you can get as close to such amazing birds as Arctic Terns, Sandwich Terns, Puffins, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Shags, Eider Ducks and Fulmars. They are literally within touching distance, or in the case of the terns, within pecking distance!

Our journey began in the seaside town of Seahouses travelling out to the islands courtesy of Billy Shiels' boats. On the trip out we had wonderful views of Gannets flying low over the water. As we approached the islands we began to see our first Guillemots and Puffins feeding on the surface of the sea. After about one hour travelling around the many different islands we eventually landed on Inner Farne, where we spent another hour looking at and photographing all the birds - amazing!

First up were the Arctic Terns. When you arrive on the island you have to walk up through the main tern colony and although the wardens have roped off a path the birds don't recognise this. As you walk past many of the adult birds fly up to scare you away from the eggs. Not content with screaming at you, they then begin to dive bomb you and peck at your head.

When terns attack!!!

Not all the terns fly up as you walk past and so it's possible to get some absolutely stunning photographs, even with a simple hand held, "point and shoot" camera like mine.

Arctic Tern

If you survive the terns, the next part of the island is where you find the Shags, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins. Again, the birds are right next to the paths, but appear very relaxed and not at all concerned by the dozens of human visitors. Here are a few photos of some of these species:




Kittiwakes (with chicks)


The islands remain open to visitors for several months yet and the birds will still be around until about the end of July, start of August, so if you haven't been yet, why not give them a visit?

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