Wednesday 30 March 2011

Nearly there...

Gadwall - a rare bird on the Farnes (Graeme Duncan)
Wednesday 30th March comments: It’s the build up to the big day – where opening to the public on Friday and we’re ready. We’ve worked hard getting the new interpretation ready, the Chapel polished, the boardwalks up to scratch and the jetties scrubbed. Its time we saw some friendly faces from the mainland. However the wardens have read the script but the birds haven’t – predictably the Auks have disappeared for a few days whilst everything else appears to be scarce apart from the Shags – some are now on three eggs! On the migrant front, a first-summer Iceland Gull roosted on Knoxes Reef whilst three Gadwall lingered around the Kettle – an unusual sight for the Farnes. Sandwich Tern numbers have peaked at 13 in the roost whilst common migrants such as Wheatear and Goldcrest continue to move through.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Buteo beauty

Go away...Gulls mobbing the Buzzard (Graeme Duncan)

Good birds continue, Buzzard over (Graeme Duncan)

Three-headed Puffins.... (Graeme Duncan)

Puffins galore (Graeme Duncan)

A Farnes favourite (Graeme Duncan)

Saturday 26th march comments:
Our great start to the birding scene continued as Thursday pulled out another Farnes ‘biggy’ – a Buzzard! They maybe becoming more numerous on the mainland but on the Farnes, still rare, with just ten previous records involving fourteen individuals.

However once all the large Gulls had took to the air of the nearby West Wideopens, we knew something was up. Seconds later, a Buzzard drifted into view, as it headed east towards the outer group of islands. Realising there wasn’t much life out on Brownsman or beyond, the bird returned, heavily mobbed by everything on its return. Finally it departed west, to the relative safety of the mainland away from the angry Gulls but the delighted wardens.

On the islands, the Puffins returned again to the islands, with one or two noted sorting out nest burrows in preparation for the forthcoming breeding season. On the cliffsides, its still early days although the Shag still has a single egg on Lighthouse cliff.

Thursday 24th March highlights
Red-throated Diver 1N, Peregrine female, Buzzard, Sandwich Tern 2, Mediterranean Gull adult summer plumage in roost, Skylark, Blackbird 2,

Friday 25th March highlights
Shelduck 2, Teal 2, Goosander 2 north, Meadow Pipit 24N, Skylark, Blackbird 2, Wheatear (first of the year), Goldcrest 3.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Snow Goose No Glory

Egg-static - first Shag egg of the season (Ciaran Hatsell)

Migrants on the move - Goldcrest (Ciaran Hatsell)

Wednesday 23rd March comments:
What a day. The best day of the week produced the most talked about events of the season so far. On an early seawatch, a Snow Goose was picked out flying north through Inner Sound in a mixed Goose flock. This potential ‘first’ for the Farnes will cause some debate as to its true origins, but its presumably the same individual seen recently in Ashington and on nearby Holy Island in Northumberland. If it is accepted as a wild individual, there will be some early celebrating on the islands.

Speaking of celebrating, the first eggs have been discovered – as a pair of Shags at lighthouse cliff were discovered sitting today – now that is early! With the mild start it’s not totally unexpected although it is the earliest ever recorded laying date by five days and we would normally expect the first eggs in mid-April. There was also a welcome return – our first Sandwich Terns – all three discovered on Knoxes Reef. As I said, what a day!

Today’s highlights: Snow Goose 1N (potentially first for the Farnes), Goldeneye 3, Red-breasted Merganser 2, Common Scoter 33 on sea, Sandwich Tern 3 (first of the year), Wood Pigeon 1 west, Rook 4 west, Jackdaw 2 west, Blackbird, Goldcrest 2 and Linnet 4

Cetaceans: Porpoise 3 surfacing through Inner Sound.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Pinkies on the move

Skein of Pink-footed Geese over the Pele Tower (Ciaran Hatsell)

Early start, pair of Shags on the cliffs (Ciaran Hatsell)

Woodcock wings - one full Peregrine nearby

Tuesday 22nd March comments: It’s been another cracking day as the sunny weather continued and the team have been working hard to get the islands ready for visitors and seabirds. I’ll introduce the team over the next week or two, but everyone is enjoying it and can't to welcome visitors back to the islands.

Interestingly today witnessed the complete evacuation of the islands of all the auk species as they moved off the islands and back to sea leaving the cliffs bare. However the day was notable for northerly passage of Pin-footed Geese as nine skeins totalled 466 moved over the islands, a record spring count for the Farnes.

Today’s highlights: Red-throated Diver 1S, Red-necked Grebe, Wigeon 3S, Teal 2, Goldeneye 2, Brent Goose 4 on sea, Pink-footed Goose 466N (in nine skeins), Redshank 31, Purple Sandpiper 30, Blackbird 7, Rook 3, Jackdaw 3, Linnet 4, Greenfinch, and male Reed Bunting.

Monday 21 March 2011

Puffins return

Look who's back... (Ciaran Hatsell)

Puffins galore (Ciaran Hatsell)

Looking good - Inner Farne courtyard

Whooper Swans fly north (Ciaran Hatsell)
Monday 21st March comments: It’s been a cracking start as the fine weather continues to prevail and team moral is high as we enter our first week back on the islands. It hasn’t taken long for the seabirds to react to the settled start and for the first time this year, the Puffins landed – their back and it was great to see them.

Alongside the Puffins, huge numbers of Guillemots were in attendance whilst Shags and Kittiwakes remain loyal to the cliff tops. However it won’t take much to move birds back out to sea and any spell of poor weather, will result in bare islands, it is only mid-March after all.

Sunday 20th March highlights: Whooper Swan 68N, Red-necked Grebe for second day, Goldeneye 2, Sparrowhawk female, Peregrine male, Purple Sandpiper 90, Skylark and Blackbird 2.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Heading back...

Home for next nine months...Inner Farne

Loading at Seahouses

Nearly there - a full boat and Inner Farne

Everything must go - the long haul starts
Saturday 19th March comments:
Where back and it’ good to be here. Following the ‘usual’ week of mainland based training we eventually sailed to the islands on a glorious Friday morning. The team, a mix of returnees and new faces; packed, stacked and filled the boat and we departed Seahouses just after 10am, and sailed across Inner Sound, island bound.

It wasn’t long before we arrived on Inner Farne and we spent the day moving equipment and personal belongings up to the Pele Tower before settling back into island life. We couldn’t have asked for a better start, with glorious sunshine and very little wind resulting in a great way to spend the first day back on the islands. With more settled weather predicted, we could get very use to this.

On a bird front, there were plenty of Guillemots and Razorbills present with a handful of Puffins noted. Shags appear to be well ahead of the game, with some reasonably large nests already constructed (it’s going to be another early start to the season), whilst Kittiwakes are present in good numbers.

Away from the breeding birds, the islands have produced a few noticeable highlights including a lingering Red-necked Grebe, both Peregrine and Sparrowhawk have been seen hunting the area whist seven Whopper Swans moved north today (Saturday 19th March).

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Not long now...

Fulmar party

Wednesday 2nd March comments:
It's not long now, the wait is almost over. In under two weeks we'll be embarking on another Farnes season and another year of bringing you the up's and down's of life on the islands. Everything from seals to seabirds, to warden's life and much, much more. I hope you're all ready and going to come along for the journey. Welcome back to planet Farnes! I can't wait.