Monday 5 November 2012

Wax on, Wax off

Northern delight - Waxwing on Brownsman (Jason Moss)

Taking advantage of our apples (Jason Moss)

Very approachable Grey Phalarope (Jason Moss)

Feeding away on sea surface (Jason Moss)

'second coat' pups now appearing on the colonies

Sunday 4th November comments: It’s been a strange old year 2012. We had some atrocious weather during the summer but recent months (when we expect poor weather) has produced some cracking days. Today was one of them, as settled conditions combined with a winter sun ensured a stunning day on the Farnes. As usual the ranger team took full advantage as we entered the seal colonies for another full census check of the pup population. Alongside that, we were greeted by some unusual birds along the way.

The Grey Seal colonies are certainly thriving at the moment as the number of new pups pushed beyond 800 – a very healthy number for the time of year. Individual island totals include:

South Wames 271

Staple Island 242

North Wamses 209

Brownsman 141

Northern Hares 13

Others 4

Grand Total 887

However a Farnes day wouldn’t be complete without some birding highlights, and we had a few… Over the last fortnight, an irruption of Waxwings has been occurring in the far north of Scotland and gradually birds have been arriving across northern England. In recent days we’ve had one or two fly over but today one landed and took full advantage of some apples which had been strategically placed on our artificial tree by one enterprising ranger. The bird munched its way through some lovely granny smiths before departing west (along with three more later in the day). As well as these, another northern delight included a very approachable Grey Phalarope, alongside numerous Little Auks on the sea. However one sad note of the day was the discovery of our Great Skua, found dead on the seal colonies. A sad end for such a spectacular bird.

Highlights: Sparrowhawk, Merline 2, Peregrine, Great Skua fond dead on seal colonies, Grey Phalarope 1 on sea off Staple Island, Little Auk numerous (36 in one scan across the sea), Waxwing 4 west, light Thrush passage west, Snow Bunting.

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