Thursday, 11 December 2014

Seal season!

Bye bye Farnes team

Second coat pup

Staple Island colony now the biggest

Brownsman seal family

Mating season!

And fighting season.

Thursday 11th December comments: The dust has settled and we are off the islands! The team made a successful escape last Saturday and celebrated another successful season on Planet Farnes. However more of that to follow…

Back to the islands and we said goodbye to the Grey Seal colonies of the islands for one last time. It’s been a very productive autumn with an even more impressive total as the islands boasted 1,651 seal pups; the highest pup total since 1971! However it’s not just the Farnes as other east coast seal colonies are reporting record numbers as Blakeney Point (Norfolk) have a staggering 2,126 pups and Donna Nook (Lincolnshire) have 1,760 pups.

Interestingly there has been a huge shift in recent years in the Farne colonies as Staple Island has become ‘number one’ nursery whilst Brownsman claimed second spot this year for the first in the modern era. The top island pup totals include;

Staple Island 492
Brownsman 408
South Wamses 389
North Wamses 227
West Wideopens 51
Northern Hares 39
Knoxes Reef 32

Over the next few weeks I’ll be bringing you a round-up of the season, from seabirds to escaping the island and much, much more so keep checking the blog!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Tis the Seal-son to be Jolly!

Reflecting on seals

Young pup on the Farne Islands

'Second coat' pup

The important seal kit!

Colonies looking empty

Wednesday 3rd December comments: Another day and another count. We’ve been on the Seal colonies again today across the Farne Islands and some big news! Staple Island has maintained itself as the number one colony but for the first time in several decades, Brownsman has now become the second largest Grey Seal colony on the Farnes.

Staple Island now boasts 489 pups whilst adjacent Brownsman has 398 pups. Overall the Farnes total has reached 1,625 pups and that’s already fifty above last years total and we’re not finished.


Its now back to the packing as we enter the final few days on the Farnes and plenty still to do…

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Mainland bound...

Buildings on lock-down

St.Cuthburt's Chapel shutters up

That time of year again! Grey Seal pups at the door

Tuesday 2nd December comments: Its early December, it’s that time of year again as we’re getting ready to leave. The Farnes have been home to the ranger team since mid-March and we’ve seen and experienced it all. However as we approach Christmas, its time we departed for the luxury and comforts of the real world.


On Saturday we’ll say goodbye to the islands for another season as we’ve started to pack down and lock up the buildings on the Farnes. It’s going to be an intense few days as we’ve still got more Seals to count but also plenty of other work to keep us busy.

I’ll try keep the blog updated nightly to keep you all informed of the latest news, but lets hope for some kind weather and a good finish to the season.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Count Down

What is it? hiya its me!

Colony on the beach doing well

Farne Island Grey Seal pup

Saturday 29th November comments: The colonies are starting to show signs of slowing down as the number of pups born between visits has decreased. Some of the nurseries are starting to show big gaps as successful mothers and pups have departed for the open sea and it won’t be long before it’s all over.

The total number of pups born has reached 1,507 (about 100 up on this time last year) and the ‘pup boom’ elsewhere down the English east coast is showing no sign of relenting as tonight’s latest figures reveal;

Donna Nook: 1,541
Farne Islands 1,507
Blakeney Point 1,420

It’s an impressive number of Grey Seal pups but we haven’t stopped yet…..keep on counting!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Carry On Counting!

Team on the seal pup colonies...

and count me!

Saying hello to an old friend

Forget counting..too tired.

Sunday 23rd November comments: Another busy weekend as the weather allowed us access back onto our favourite place; the Grey Seal nurseries! The team were once again active spraying, counting, weighing, and tagging all the young pups across the Farne Islands and the end result was that we’ve now got an impressive 1,366 pups.

The colonies are now action packed with Bulls fighting, young pups been born, Cow seals protecting youngsters and some pups heading off into the world of independence. The four major seal nurseries on the Farnes include: Staple 425 pups, South Wamses 353 pups, Brownsman 309 pups and North Wamses 213 pups.

Overall we’ve peaked on the Farnes although over the next four to six weeks, we’ll still have another 200 born although it appears to be a bumper year elsewhere so we’ll see what happens. The three major English Grey Seal colonies are now reporting figures of:

Farne Islands (Northumberland) 1,366
Donna Nook (Lincs) 1,220
Blakeney Point (Norfolk) 877

Onwards and upwards, more counting, more seal pups, it’s never dull….

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Counting Weekend


Count me!
Saturday 22nd November comments: We've been back on the seal colonies over the last few days we'll finish counting tomorrow and then I'll bring you a full round up of all the latest Farne Island Grey Seal pup news tomorrow evening on the blog!

Eyes down...

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Winter Wonderland

Feels like winter; winter-plumage Great Northern Diver

Water Rail caught and ringed...having been found in a cupboard

Up to three Black Guillemots now wintering

200+ Purple Sandpipers now wintering across the Farnes
Thursday 20th November comments: The Farnes is a top place of bird migration as migratory birds use the islands as a safe ‘service station’ stop, to refuel, find food and shelter and escape the majority of predators they face elsewhere. As southern bound migrants pour south, others from the north replace them as they head into the UK for the winter from Scandinavia.

The last week or so has seen plenty of birds on the move as turbulent weather systems have played havoc with migratory patterns. On Monday we counted an impressive 104 Pomarine Skuas north (second largest ever Farnes count) and 862 Little Auks alone. Since then things have quietened down although winter Thrushes continue to move with the occasional surprise like a Yellowhammer (scarce on here) discovered yesterday.

Even today more surprise discoveries were made when a Water Rail was found rummaging around our Seal cupboard; not exactly a reed bed and no surprise that it was soon caught, ringed and released unharmed soon after.

Planet Farnes is never dull even when you think it’s starting to settle down…Next stop, back onto our Grey Seal colonies…