Wednesday 27 July 2011

Its a big 'un

Leach (left), Storm (right) what a pair (Will Scott)

Wing of a Leach's (Will Scott)

Wednesday 27th July comments: The Farnes never appear to amaze me, even after all these years. Following an unprecedented influx of Storm Petrels – birds were still passing today, so it was decide to try overnight tape luring to ring individuals and try piece together the movements of these small oceanic wanderers.

So as darkness fell on Inner Farne, the nets were erected, the tape lure set up and soon after we were enjoying the delights of the first capture – a ringed bird from another part of the UK. Suddenly a second bird bounced into the net, another ringed individual. It was a great start. The night went on to produce a total of eleven of these amazing birds but the night was not complete.

As we passed 03:15, we decided it was time to call it a night and pack up for some well deserved sleep. However this was shattered as we discovered to our amazement a ‘Big Un’ in the nets. A Leach’s Petrel, the larger relative of the Storm Petrel had been caught the first ever trapped Leach’s in Farnes history.

What bird, what a night. The bird was ringed and processed and eventually released but not before the entire warden team had enjoyed the sight of this monster. It capped a great few days on the Farnes and only knows what the next few months may bring…

Sunday 24 July 2011

Petrels Storm the Farnes

A Storm Petrel in the hand (from last season) Mark Breaks

Sunday 24th July comments: WHAT a day! Another day of strong northerly winds prevented boats from sailing (for the third consecutive day) but the island team went about business as usual. As well as the usual strimming and pond work, the team’s attention was drawn to the sea for a second day, as Storm Petrels took top billing with another impressive showing.

The strong northerly winds have pushed record numbers down the north-east coast and the Farnes logged an impressive 69 north today (with up to seven lingering). The birds which lingered showed amazingly well as they were observed dip feeding for several hours around the south end of the islands – an amazing sight to an amazing day (at times feeding just off the islands). All team members enjoyed the magic and I’m sure there is much more to follow as the autumn has just begun!

24th July highlights: Storm Petrel 69N plus six lingering throughout the day (record day count from the islands) Sooty Shearwater 12N, Manx Shearwater 153N, Arctic Skua 6N, Great Skua 8N, Velvet Scoter 3 male north.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Out of the Storm

Puffins chilling on the rocks (Will Scott)

Calm in the storm - a Small Tortoiseshell (Will Scott)

Saturday 23rd July comments: It’s been an impressive day as the north wind has battered the islands and the huge sea prevented boats from sailing for a second day. Many people ask what we get up to when we are cut off from the outside world…well the answer…we work!

The team have taken full advantage of a visitor free period with lots of strimming of vegetation on Inner Farne (and there is a lot to do!) whilst the Brownsman team have been pond digging. However our attention turned to the open sea later in the day and we produced an impressive 27 Storm Petrels, moving north involving some great views – one was even chased by a juvenile Arctic Tern!! Its been an impressive spell and I suspect tomorrow will bring further sightings and no visitors. What has happened to July?

23rd July highlights: Storm Petrel 27N, Sooty Shearwater 3N, Manx Shearwater 13N, Arctic Skua 2N, Great Skua 3N

22nd July highlights: Red-throated Diver 1South, Sooty Shearwater 3N, Manx Shearwater 32N, Arctic Skua 8N, Great Skua 2N, Roseate Tern 4, RB Merganser 1N, Knot 193, Curlew 30, Bar-tailed Godwit 3.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Summer madness

Not like this today - a nice sunset over the islands

Food galore - adult Puffin with prey (David Andrews)

The harsh realities of island life - a chick lost to a Gull

Wednesday 20th July comments: Where has the summer gone? This week has brought rain, wind and cold temperature and it’s meant to be mid-July, not October! The seabird season is drawing to a close as successful family parties are starting to head off. The Puffins are massing and it won’t be long before they are all gone – so be warned, its your last chance to see them this year!

Other than that, the seawatching season has picked up with a reasonable count of Manx Shearwaters yesterday whilst wader numbers are increasing considerably.

Tuesday 19th July highlights: Manx Shearwater 335 north in evening, Arctic Skua 5N, Shoveler 1N, Black-tailed Godwit 1 on Knoxes Reef, Dunlin 26, Golden Plover 270, Sanderling 2 summer plumage adults, Knot 316, Purple Sandpiper 16 and Turnstone 200.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Life on the Farnes

Stunning: adult Roseate Tern on Inner Farne (Paul Hackett)

A shag sunning itself (David Andrews)

Life above ground - a Puffin chick (David Andrews)

Nearly there - Pied Wagtail brood at Longstone (David Andrews)

Inner Farne (David Andrews)

Sunday 17th July comments: Some pictures from recent weeks to share.... life on the Farnes and everything that happens. Enjoy the photos.

Saturday 16 July 2011

End game

First Fulmar chicks have started hatching (Ed Houlcroft)

Young Kittiwake on the wing (Ed Houlcroft)

Arctic Tern chick and fledger (Ed Houlcroft)

Saturday 16th July comments: Where now heading for the 'end game' as the breeding seabirds start preparing for life away from the islands. Hopefully results will support the opinion that the season has been a huge success and it won’t be long before the islands change and the wardens can start various management work in preparation for next year

Recent days has seen a real increase in cetacean sightings, as following the two Risso’s Dolphins, we had six White-beaked Dolphins (through Inner Sound) which performed well just a few days ago. This was backed by a feeding Minke Whale off Brownsman – never a dull moment on the Farnes.

For the avid ‘seawatchers’ amongst the team, the first Sooty Shearwater has been logged whilst Arctic Skuas are now daily. It won’t be long before we welcome back our first migrant passerines and then the excitement will really begin. Role on the autumn.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Update at last!

Welcome to the world...Puffin chick emerges (Mark Breaks)

I'm out! (Mark Breaks)

A white winger... (Mark Breaks)

Tuesday 12th July comments: I keep saying it, but where has time gone? I’ve been away for just over a week and thought it was time for an update from the Farnes.

The breeding seabird season is almost over as the early nesters have now fledged chicks the the majority of other seabirds are almost done for the season. Although we’ve yet to crunch numbers, it appears to have been a very successful season for all seabirds concerned.

The majority of Arctic Terns have fledged two chicks per nest whilst good numbers of Sandwich tern young are now on the wing. Huge crèches of Shag young can be seen whilst vast numbers of fledged Kittiwakes indicates a brilliant season. The cliff-tops are also boasting great successes as Guillemots and razorbills have long gone (with good numbers of young)

As for the Puffins – despite the patchy weather, it’s been another good year and the number of chicks leaving under the cover of darkness has been staggering. It all indicates that the breeding season is almost at an end and we can all breath a big sigh of relief.

The islands are now starting to produce some interesting sightings and recent highlights included:

Risso's Dolphin – two south through inner Sound at 18:15 on 11th July

Spoonbill – one south over Longstone on 10th July

Roseate Tern – up to three are present daily with family parties expected to arrive over the next week or two

Wader passage is now underway with Green Sandpiper the highlight so far.