Saturday 29 September 2012

The week that was

A few migrants still linger including Redstarts (Andy Denton) 

Autumn well and truly here - Snow Bunting on beach (Bex Outram) 

This was the week...that bird again - this really did happen! (Graeme Duncan)

Saturday 29th September comments: Its been an absorbing week with gales, birds and a mix of emotions. The westerly winds have started to prevail once again and migrant birds are clearing out. The Turtle Dove remains in residence although other birds are starting to go as just a handful remain including a scattering of Redstart, Wheatear and the odd warbler across the islands.

Looking back, the White's Thrush dominated headlines across the birding press and therefore I felt I should post yet another picture of it. Its certainly a stunner and will probably win 'bird of the year' hands down on the Farnes this year. It really was that good. However as the autumn progresses, our attention will focus on the Grey Seal pups...its that time of year again...

Thursday 27 September 2012

Calming Farnes

Public bird ringing demos on Inner Farne (Will Scott) 

Young male Brambling in the hand (David Steel) 

Lesser Redpoll (David Steel) 

Barnacle Geese on the move

Thursday 27th September comments: Following the excitement of the storms and amazing birds of the last few days, a sense of normality started to return to the Farnes. The sea had finally calmed and boats sailed (the first time since Sunday) bringing visitors to the islands. The rangers got back into the swing of public engagement and worked together for the first time since the storm started. Not surprising, the White's Thrush remained high on the agenda, as everyone relived their moments, from the people who witnessed the amazing bird, to those who didn't. The story will become part of Farnes legend for those who were part of the 'Farnes White Thrush Day 2012' We were there, well almost. 

Today the conditions allowed for some public ringing demonstrations to be carried out on Inner Farne and plenty of birds were caught including Garden Warbler, Brambling and Lesser Redpoll amongst others. Visitors enjoyed the display although there was a general clear out of birds, with no sign of the Baird's Sandpiper or Red-breasted Flycatcher. However highlights included a lingering Turtle Dove, two Lapland Buntings and 251 Barnacle Geese, so still plenty to see.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

The Baird is the Word

 Plain but rare; moulting adult Baird's Sandpiper (David Steel)

First for the Farne Islands...Baird's Sandpiper (David Steel) 

5th record for Northumberland (David Steel) 

Eastern promise; Red-breasted Flycatcher (David Steel) 

On show, Red-breasted Flycatcher (David Steel) 

A stunner...juv Little Stint on Inner Farne (Graeme Duncan)  

Little Stint showing well (Graeme Duncan)

Wednesday 26th September comments: Those east winds were forecast from Sunday and they did not disappoint on the Farnes. Monday brought the news of a White’s Thrush on Inner Farne, which sent shock waves through the birding community. Tuesday brought a deluge of common migrants with a few scarcities thrown in for good measure

Today…another stunner; another first; a Baird’s Sandpiper. This small, plain American peep was discovered on Brownsman pond feeding alongside four Dunlin and was much appreciated by those who saw it (the same rangers who failed to see the White’s Thrush!). It joins the ranks of other American waders which have reached the Farne shores and what a beut it was.

Throughout the day, more birds arrived including a first-winter Red-breasted Flycatcher, another Little Stint and a good scattering of common migrants including Turtle Dove, Lapland and Snow Buntings. Another good day! This has been a good year for Farnes birding, with an impressive spring and the autumn is starting to really live up to reputation and with October still to play, lets see where we end up!

Another first for the Farnes...

Moulting adult Baird's Sandpiper on Brownsman

Wednesday 26th September late afternoon update: The islands are going through a purple patch at the moment and this Baird's Sandpiper on Brownsman pond has helped the list tick along. The bird, a moulting adult, is showing well with three Dunlin and a full report will appear tonight on the blog (with hopefully a few more birds to talk about).

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Two Turtle Doves and a Leach's Over the Sea

Turtle Dove in a bush...a rare sight now on the Farnes (Graeme Duncan) 

One of two Turtle Doves today on islands (Graeme Duncan) 

No hiding for this Jack Snipe (David Steel) 

Juv Little Stint on Brownsman Pond (David Steel) 

Dunlin and Little Stint together (David Steel) 

An impressive male Brambling (Ciaran Hatsell) 

A wet looking male Lapland Bunting at feeding station (Ciaran Hatsell) 

Stunning - calling Goldcrest (Graeme Duncan) 

Swallows roosting in Brownsman cottage (Ciaran Hatsell) 

Battered: Staple Island like you've never seen it before

Tuesday 25th September comments: It’s been another impressive day on the Farnes, as the easterly storm brought some mountainous seas, heavy rain, and a boatload of migrant birds. However the gloss was taken off the day with the news that yesterdays White’s Thrush had departed, leaving three rangers on Brownsman (and many mainland birders) distraught. Despite this the easterly winds brought some tremendous numbers of migrant birds including:

1 Leach’s Petrel

3 Long-tailed Skuas

107 Great Skuas (record Farne count)

1 Juv Little Stint

1 Short-eared Owl (first of autumn)

1 Icterine Warbler

2 Turtle Doves

2 Snow Buntings

1 Lapland Bunting

But no sign of White’s Thrush.

Seawatching: Common Scoter 17N, Velvet Scoter 1N, Wigeon 74N, Teal 28, Leach’s Petrel 1N Staple Sound at 15:30, Sooty Shearwater 3N, Manx Shearwater 7N, Great Skua 107N (Farnes record day count), Long-tailed Skua 3 juveniles N, Arctic Skua 7N, Puffin 3 together, Sandwich Tern 3N 1S,

Waders: Common Sandpiper, Little Stint juvenile on Brownsman, Grey Plover, Snipe 4, Jack Snipe 5, Lapwing 2S and Dunlin 12.

Others: Kestrel male, Short-eared Owl (first of autumn), Yellow Wagtail, Wood Pigeon 2, Turtle Dove 2 on Inner Farne, House Martin 2, Swallow 50 (including 19 roosting in Brownsman cottage), Skylark 14, Chiffchaff 5, Willow Warbler 8, Blackcap 8, Garden Warbler 9, Lesser Whitethroat 3, Whitethroat 3, Reed Warbler 2, Icterine Warbler on Inner Farne, Goldcrest 48, Fieldfare 1, Song Thrush 300 (major arrival), Redwing 6, Pied Flycatcher 2, Robin 65, Whinchat, Wheatear 20, Tree Pipit 7, Chaffinch 28, Brambling 76, Siskin 4, Snow Bunting 2, Lapland Bunting 1 male and Reed Bunting.

White has gone

Tuesday 25th September late morning update: The White's Thrush appears to have disappeared off Inner Farne with no sign of the bird up to midday. A major arrival of common migrants has occurred across the islands, but more to follow later.

Monday 24 September 2012

White Out

The special one in the hand (Bex Outram) 

No mistaking that underwing (Graeme Duncan) 

Tail on show (Graeme Duncan) 

Its a handful (Graeme Duncan) 

Stunning (Graeme Duncan)

Monday 24th September late evening update: The days events have been dominated by one bird, which arrived and later caught (in the gas cage) on Inner Farne. I've added yet more photos as this bird is so good (for those who have seen it) and hopefully the weather will allow access, which will be arranged for visiting birders. Until then, enjoy the images of this White's Thrush and more updates will follow tomorrow. Enjoy.


Thats one stunning Zoothera underwing (Andy Denton) 

Its big!! (Graeme Duncan) 

Head shot up close (Will Scott) 

Back of the bird (Bex Outram)

Monday 24th September late morning update: The WHITE'S THRUSH found this morning on Inner Farne was amazingly caught in the islands gas cage - a good sheltered area for birds to hide. As you can see, the bird is a monster and represents the first for the Farne Islands and only second ever for Northumberland following one in 1914.

This is some beast!!!!


Monday 24th September...late morning update. A WHITE'S THRUSH has been discovered on Inner Farne this morning and showing on and off to the four rangers on the island. They are currently trying to get photos and I will put them on this blog as soon as we have them.

Lots of birds dropping in from the east today but nothing as good or as big as that. Only second ever Northumberland record (first in 1915) and first for the Farnes. The sea state (heavy seas with gale force winds) will prevent any boats from sailing today. It also has stopped the three rangers living on Brownsman getting over to see it...including Mr Steel.

More news to follow.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Its good, but it's Snow Magnolia

Yellow-browed Warbler present for second day (Will Scott) 

First autumn Snow Bunting arrives (David Steel) 

Sanderling feeding on shoreline (David Steel) 

Lesser Whitethroat on the rock (David Steel)

Sunday 23rd September comments: The day started off bright and sunny but gradually the wind picked up from the south and switched to the east. In birding terms, it has begun. As darkness fell, the radio brought the familiar tones of the shipping forecast;

Forth, Tyne, Dogger: East 4 or 5 increasing 7 or gale 8, perhaps severe gale 9 later.

Its time to batten down the hatches.

Today all eyes were trained on the sea as yet more good numbers of ducks and skuas moved north past the islands with a few surprises along the way including three juvenile Long-tailed Skuas and two stunning Pomarine Skuas.

Today’s totals: Red-throated Diver 10N, Black-throated Diver 1S, Great Northern Diver 1S, Shag 1,564 roosting on inner group of islands, Brent Goose 7N, Barnacle Goose 6N, Sanderling 4 on Brownsman (not common out here), Grey Plover 1, Golden Plover c500, Wigeon 882N, Teal 201N, Velvet Scoter 3N, Common Scoter 28N, Red-breasted Merganser 1N, Manx Shearwater 17N, Sooty Shearwater 7N, Arctic Skua 26N, Great Skua 12N, Pomarine Skua 2N (including adult with ‘spoons’), Long-tailed Skua 3N (all juvs), Kestrel, Peregrine, Tree Pipit, Wheatear 4, Yellow-browed Warbler 1 present for second day, Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Brambling, Lesser Redpoll 5, Snow Bunting (first of autumn) and Lapland Bunting.

On a final note, our congratulations to the boys in the north, as the ex-Farne warden contingent on Fair Isle have just produced Britain’s second ever Magnolia Warbler. Nice work bonny lads, nice work.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Take a brow

Siberian waif: Yellow-browed Warbler on Inner Farne (Will Scott)

Saturday 22nd September comments: It’s the autumn and things are starting to stir. Following a prolonged spell of westerly winds, birders up and down the east coast are starting to get excited as the weather forecast is suggesting something good, something very special…

East coast birders want one thing at this time of year; easterly winds with rain, which will drop migrants galore (with a few rarities) onto headlands stretching from Kent to Shetland. And the Farne Islands is no different. As we stick 3-4 miles out into the North Sea, this place can produce and everything is looking set for Monday-Tuesday. It could be good, very good.

Today the islands have started to wake from their westerly slumber as an early morning Lapland Bunting was followed by some impressive wildfowl movements including a juvenile Long-tailed Skua. The day was capped by a Yellow-browed Warbler on Inner Farne late afternoon – part of a national influx today of these Siberian waifs. Things are really starting to tick and we’ll hopefully go on to produce a lot more over the forthcoming days. Keep checking the blog as things are about to get very exciting…

Today highlights (Saturday 22nd September): Red-throated Diver 14S, Pink-footed Geese 1S, Brent Goose 109N (pale bellied), Teal 307N, Wigeon 325N, Velvet Scoter 4N, Tufted Duck 1N, Common Scoter 70N, Red-breasted Merganser 2N, Snipe 1, Golden Plover 960, Manx Shearwater 2N, Sooty Shearwater 3N, Great Skua 8N, Long-tailed Skua 1 immature north Staple Sound at 15:40, Willow Warbler 4, Garden Warbler 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 1 on Inner Farne, Rook 2, Goldfinch 1 and Lapland Bunting 1 on Brownsman (first of the autumn).

Yesterday (Friday 21st September) : Great Northern Diver 2S, Red-throated Diver 24S, Common Scoter 22N, Velvet Scoter 1N, Brent Goose 54N, Teal 25N, Wigeon 18N, Manx Shearwater 14N, Sooty Shearwater 39N, CORY’S SHEARWATER 1N at 15:25 off islands – 16th record for Farne islands, Arctic Skua 8S, Great Skua 26N, Brambling 1 – first of the autumn.

Friday 21 September 2012

A Farnes Seal-ebration!!

First Grey Seal pup of the autumn (Brownsman in background)

Fine and well...our first Seal pup. 

South Wamses strikes with the first pup of the autumn 

Seal on the rocks 

Enjoying the autumn sunshine on South Wamses

Friday 21st September comments: It begins. This morning our first Grey Seal pup of the autumn was born on the South Wamses (traditionally the island to have our first pup). Both mother and pup are doing well, as the pictures show and we can now look forward to plenty more...another 1,500 more!! Over the next few months we'll be bringing you the news and views from the seal colonies and everything that goes with it. It's good to have our first, now bring on the rest...

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Pirates of the Farnes

 Pirates board the visitor boat for a sing song!

The boy Steel planting the pirate flag on the jetty 

Laura and Sam in the visitor centre 

Captain Ciaran keeping watch

Ye Pirates on Farnes today...

The team like you've never seen them before... 

Pirates take the Farnes 

 Pirate Ciaran and Andy looking on

Pirate David ready for action

Wednesday 19th September comments: A quick early morning update - its Pirate day on the Farnes as 'international talk like a pirate day' was taken a step further by the rangers on the islands. Its all good fun but we maybe drinking a few rums later...  But for now, anyone visiting today, you have been warned...