Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Starting to get Ready!

Resplendent Redstart (David Kinchin-Smith)

A steady passage of Wheatears (David Kinchin-Smith)

Good numbers of Chiffchaffs still present (David Kinchin-Smith)

A Linnet soaking up today's sun (David Kinchin-Smith)

The newest additions to Brownsman (David Kinchin-Smith)
Wednesday 23rd April comments: The easterly winds have been blowing these last few days and with them has come some new arrivals to the islands. One of the highlights for both the Inner and Outer Group have been stunning male Redstarts for both islands. Other birds of note have included a Whitethroat on Brownsman today and a Garden Warbler on Inner Farne yesterday, both of which represent the first records of the year.

However, what’s really been evident today and yesterday has been the activity of our breeding birds – Tern numbers are building in the roost, we’ve now had numerous sightings of Guillemot eggs, Puffins have been busy excavating burrows, Rock Pipits have been display flying or ‘parachuting’ and the Outer Groups' first Mallard ducklings took their maiden voyage on Brownsman pond today. Spring certainly has sprung!

Today’s totals: Shoveler 3, Peregrine 1, Purple Sandpiper 132, Snipe 1, Iceland Gull 1, Sand Martin 4, Swallow 5, Meadow Pipit 7, Yellow Wagtail 1, Robin 12, Redstart 3, Wheatear 8, Song Thrush 4, Blackbird 1, Fieldfare 2, Blackcap 3, Whitethroat 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 16, Linnet 3, Goldfinch 1.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Wry-ding The Easterlies

Cryptic critter! Our 1st Wryneck of the year (Laura Shearer)

Yesterday's ringed Pied Flycatcher (David Kinchin-Smith)

Today's Lesser Whitethroat (David Kinchin-Smith)

Keeping warm - our first Guillemot egg! (David Kinchin-Smith)

An unusual sight - a Puffin egg in the entrance to a burrow

Monday 21st April comments: It’s a special time of year on the Farnes. Not only do we have the excitement of our breeding seabirds getting settled on land and laying eggs, but the Farnes also plays host to migratory species of bird which are travelling to their breeding grounds elsewhere in the UK and on the continent. These birds use the islands as a vital refuelling station so that they can feed up and continue on their epic journeys.

Over the last two days a steady stream of migrants has been moving through, aided by an easterly wind. A highlight yesterday was the appearance of a Pied Flycatcher and with continued easterly winds overnight and into today another smattering of migrants had dropped in, including a Lesser Whitethroat. An increasing number of Chiff Chaffs and Willow warblers were busy flycatching throughout the day but the star bird today came mid-afternoon as a Wryneck was spotted from the pele tower window on Inner Farne. The bird gave good but brief views before departing. A good record after a blank year last year.

However, it’s not all about the migrants, following the first Puffin egg on Inner Farne our first Guillemot egg was discovered yesterday safely tucked under an adult. In a few weeks our colony of more than 50,000 individuals will be alive with the sounds of new chicks and we can’t wait! No matter what time of year, there’s always something to see on the Farnes!

With continued easterly winds overnight and rain forecast tomorrow, no doubt we’ll have more new arrivals on the islands.....  

Today’s totals: Kestrel 1, Wheatear 6, Robin 2, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 2, Wryneck 1, Swallow 1, Yellow Wagtail 1, Blackcap 3, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 22, Willow Warbler 7, Linnet 2, Reed Bunting 1

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Eggs!

Our first Ringed Plover eggs (Em Witcutt)

One proud Mother! (David Kinchin-Smith)

Love is in the air (David Kinchin-Smith)

Shags are egg-cellent parents (David Kinchin-Smith)

Saturday 19th April comments: The breeding season is well underway on the Islands and a number of our nesting birds have now laid their eggs. We had an exciting discovery yesterday as we found our first Ringed Plover eggs of the season near the jetty on Inner Farne. The adult was sitting tight on the nest but allowed us a glimpse of her four delicate eggs.

And today we had big news! Our first of almost 40,000 Puffin eggs was discovered on Inner Farnes’s central meadow. This is a few weeks earlier than last year and reflects the mild winter that the UK has experienced compared to that of last year, which really delayed the start of the season. And most importantly it arrived just in time for Easter day! Now is a great time to visit the Farnes and see all these unique Islands have to offer.  

Happy Easter from all the Farnes Team!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Territorial Tussles

Kissing Puffins? I don't think so... (David Kinchin-smith)

Fighting begins (David Kinchin-smith)

Territorial dispute (David Kinchin-smith)

Early season Puffins (David Kinchin-smith)

Wednesday 16th April comments: The Puffins are still coming and going on a daily basis but there are clear signs that the birds are starting to settle. Freshly cleaned out burrows and courtship is very evident in the 40,000+ breeding pairs across the Farnes.

However it’s not all hugs and kisses as territorial disputes are cropping up as rival males spar, with some contests turning ugly. However despite the brutal nature, all usually ends well and soon the neighbours are accepting of each other and getting on with the job in hand. It’s the Farnes, it’s the breeding season and its all go!

Monday, 14 April 2014

April Anticipation

Kittiwake pairing up (Laura Shearer)

Every cliff ledge has a pair (Laura Shearer)

Stunning birds; Kittiwakes (Laura Shearer)

Monday 14th April comments: The stop-start season continues as the majority of Puffins and Guillemots have departed for the open sea although Shags remain on eggs with a few other species starting to step up their breeding behaviour.

The graceful Kittiwake's have returned to the cliff ledges in good numbers (4,000 pairs nest on the Farnes) and pair bonding and even nest building has commenced. Soon we'll be inundated with seabirds as Sandwich Tern numbers continue to increase (we've now got up to 300 in the evening roost) and those Auks will finally settle and then it will be all go! You have been warned.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

How Auk-ful!

The fight for cliff space begins (David Kinchin-smith)

No inch spared (David Kinchin-smith)

Get out! (David Kinchin-smith)

Bruised but okay (David Kinchin-smith)

Wednesday 9th April comments: It’s all go on the Farnes as at long last we are enjoying a settled weather spell following two weeks of cold easterly winds and thick fog. The seabirds are responding as more and more Shags are laying eggs whilst Puffins are starting to settle after a much needed “spring-clean” of their burrows.

On the cliff-tops, the arguments and battles for cliff space has begun and the Guillemots were at it today. The Farnes boast over 50,000 individual Guillemots and every inch is fought over. Today a battle between two rival birds was observed and the injuries sustained were not life threatening but looked painful all the same. After a long winter at sea, the urge to reproduce is strong and tempers are high!

Its dog eat dog world out here, but this is the Farnes and it’s nature at its best!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Sandwich Filler

Returning in good numbers...Sandwich Terns

Soon to be nesting!

Saturday 5th April comments: Our attention is slowly turning to our nesting seabirds as the spring progresses and more birds return. Sandwich Terns have spent the winter off West Africa (got more sense than us!) and have winging their way north over the last few weeks.

The evening roost count today produced 43 with numbers increasing daily. It won’t be long before we have them displaying over the islands and the main colony on Inner Farne will be alive with the sound of nesting Terns.
On the migration front it was a case of summer meets winter this morning as a male Ring Ouzel was discovered on Inner Farne just moments after thirteen Long-tailed Ducks flew north. It’s all change and full steam ahead as the nesting season is fast approaching!