Saturday, 22 November 2008

Fight for survival

The storm lashing the east side of Brownsman early Saturday morning

Nameless Rock - an island with life - a Seal pup clings on for dear life

The Otter story made the national headlines and top billing on the local Teletext news report, and even the mighty Terry Wogan mentioned it on his breakfast program. But every day is different out here and the Otter story is quickly forgotten as we've got trouble, big trouble.

The storm has been raging from the north or north-west for two days now and as each day passes the sea builds in strength, power and magnitude. The North Sea is a vast place and a northerly backed wind will whip across it, increasing the swell and the waves. There's nothing stopping it until its reaches its first breaking point; the Farne Islands. Welcome to the Farnes in late November. This morning has been incredible, as I'm witnessing waves on areas of the island I've not seen before and even standing in the centre of Brownsman I can feel the sea spray breaking over. The islands weather machine is recording a chill factor of -2.4 degrees and its only ten o'clock. This is the true raw strength of the North Sea and it's not stopping. Its brute force will ravage the islands leaving very little standing and the outcome looks bleak.

The Grey Seals out on the colonies will suffer and the fight for survival is none more apparent than on Nameless Rock, a small low lying island opposite Brownsman (see photo above). A small pup was born on their just over a week ago and its now under siege. The waves are breaking over the top, the tide is rising and it's helpless and there is nothing we can do. Will he make it? The swell is crushing everything in its path and it won't stop for a small seal pup. It's mother must be distraught but I don't fancy its chance, I really don't. I'll know the outcome in the next few hours as high tide approaches but I can only but pray for the little life on the rock.

This is just one small story of the bigger drama which will unfold over the next few days on the Farnes. Without doubt the pups are paying a heavy toll on the islands as the harsh mistress that is the North Sea will be washing them off the rocks and beaches around us. Its a cruel time of year and for young pups, they won't stand a chance if they don't find safety. Moving just a few yards further up the beach can make a huge difference between life and death, but I suspect its to late. I'm fearing the worst and those with a nervous disposition may not want to read tomorrows entry... The storm is raging.


kezia said...

Oh goodness that otter will wonder what he has let himself in for him - very different from the mainland . Poor pups I do hope they are okay but I guess as nature is at its worst some are bound to perish . I dont look forward to tomorrows blog David but have to face it , you take care and wonderful pics again - thank you . saw my Archie yesterday and he is well , I will visit the Farnes now in August on my way back from the RSPB at Loch Garten , I am lucky enough to be Osprey volunteering for 2 weeks and cant wait .

Farnes said...

Thankyou and its tough for the pups out here at the moment. You'll love Loch Garten (I volunteered there many years ago when I first started out - its a brilliant experience). I'll let you know about Archie as soon as I get news.

Jan said...

I am freezing here in the East Midlands after standing at the rugby all afternoon, I shudder (and shiver!) to think of what the storms and cold must be like on Brownsman, and hope against hope for the seal pups. Nature has to take her course but it is still so sad to think of small pups being washed away. Much as I love the wildness of stormy seas I think I'd be battening down the hatches if I was there with you! Keep safe, won't you?
Off to mull some wine now - I'd send you a flask if I could!