Monday 30 September 2013

Little Mix

A small bundle of delight; a Little Bunting (David Steel)

One of two Little Buntings today (David Steel)

A cold stunner from the north; Mealy Redpoll (David Steel)

The North Sea building
Monday 30th September comments: The easterly weather front which has been building for a number of days finally intensified resulting in heavy seas and no boats sailing. Interestingly it appears we’ll be stuck in this weather pattern for a number of days, so the team are well and truly cut off from the outside world. Welcome to the autumn!

On a more positive note the easterly winds have produced as more migrant birds have poured into the islands. Redwings, Song Thrushes and Brambling have given the islands a very wintry feel although with a good scattering of summer migrants including Ring Ouzel, and several warbler species, it brings it home that this is migration period.

Amongst the throngs of commoner migrants, we’ve also had some rarer arrivals (as usual!). The major highlight came in the form of two Little Buntings which arrived on Brownsman before one departed west towards Inner Farne and the mainland. Other highlights included a Richard’s Pipit on Inner Farne, four Yellow-browed Warblers (but one was found sadly dead), a Short-eared Owl, a stunning Mealy Redpoll (a very pale bird!) and a Hooded Crow!

It’s been a great year for migrant birds so far and with more easterly winds in the forecast, things are warming up nicely! Binoculars at the ready everyone!

Friday 27 September 2013

First Seal Pup!

Hello World! First Seal pup of the autumn (David Steel)

Less than 12 hours old (David Steel)

Fighting fit and looking good (David Steel)

What are these strange creatures mum? (David Steel)
Friday 27th September comments: Hello world! This morning the first Grey Seal pup of the autumn was born on the shingle ridge of the South Wamses, opposite Brownsman. The pup will hopefully be the first of many as we had 1,603 pups born on the islands last autumn, maintaining the Farnes as England largest colony.

A quick check late afternoon revealed a healthy pup with an attentive mother, which bodes well for the youngster’s survival. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the new born over the next few weeks and making sure we’ll keep you all informed of progress. Seal season has begun.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Three is the Magic Number

Stunning sprite; Yellow-browed Warbler (Ciaran Hatsell)

and another (Bex Outram)

Public ringing demonstrations well attended (Bex Outram)

Important scientific work behind it all (David Steel)

Migrants still linger; Garden Warbler (David Steel)

Pied Flycatcher showing well as usual (David Kinchin-smith)

One of two Lesser Whitethroats caught and ringed (Ciaran Hatsell)

Siskins on the move (David Kinchin-smith)
Thursday 26th September comments: After yesterdays ‘fall’ of migrant birds, today brought a return to normality; whatever normality is on the Farne Islands. The day was dominated by sunny, calm conditions (although with an easterly backed wind) and as a result a good majority of the migrant birds had departed in such favourable conditions.

However not all had left, as the juvenile Red-backed Shrike remained loyal to Inner Farne whilst at least four Yellow-browed Warblers were still present amongst a good scattering of commoner migrants. As part of our scientific work, we once again carried out public bird ringing demonstrations, but on this occasion rather than just the odd Willow Warbler or Goldcrest, we managed to catch not one, but three Yellow-browed Warblers! Least to say, the public enjoyed the show whilst the rangers got to grips with the finer points of these amazing Siberian sprites.

So can we top this? Well with more easterly winds forecast over the forthcoming week, anything is possible, it really is, so watch this space, or even better come and join us.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Top Rumps

A class of nine Yellow-browed Warblers today (David Steel)

Sprite from the east (David Steel)

A record autumn for these Siberian warblers (David Kinchin-smith)

Crossbill caught and ringed (Ciaran Hatsell)

Short-eared Owl on the move (David Kinchin-smith)

Spotted Flycatcher on the rocks (Ciaran Hatsell)

Brent Geese on the move (Will Scott)

Juv Grey Plover showing well (Ciaran Hatsell)

Red-backed Shrike makes an appearance (Will Scott)

Wednesday 25th September comments: It’s been some day on the islands, with birds at every turn, feeding on every rock face and flitting from every crevice. The wind strengthened and birds began to fall. With many still lingering from yesterday, a few new additions were made including the islands second ever White-rumped Sandpiper and even more Yellow-browed Warblers and a Red-backed Shrike which made for a truly memorable days birding!
The Farnes never fail to disappoint, whether it’s amazing views of incredible seabirds or the incredible spectacle of migration, there’s always something to see and enjoy on here! Today’s totals and great photos tells its own story…
Totals for today: Red-throated Diver 10S 3N, Pink-footed Goose 7, Brent Goose 57N, Pintail 1N, Wigeon  482N, Teal 203N, Common Scoter 106N, Grey Heron 6, Peregrine 2, Grey Plover 3, Golden Plover 900, Ruff 1, Lapwing 2W, Wood Sandpiper 1 (eventually went west), Jack Snipe 7, Snipe 50+, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER 1 (second for Farnes),  Great Skua 13N, Arctic Skua 7, Short-eared Owl 1, Skylark 29, Tree Pipit 2, Yellow Wagtail 1, Wheatear 14, Redstart 3, Whinchat 2, Song Thrush 76, Redwing 150, Fieldfare 3, Ring Ouzel 1, Garden Warbler 2, Blackcap 2, Lesser Whitethroat 3, Whitethroat 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Willow Warbler 13, Chiffchaff 11, YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER 9 (Inner Farne 4, Brownsman 3, West Wideopen and Longstone), Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher 3, RED-BACKED SHRIKE 1 juvenile, Chaffinch 2, Brambling 14, Crossbill 1 juvenile for second day, Siskin 6, Reed Bunting 2 and Snow Bunting  2.

Just out of interest, the Yellow-browed Warbler influx to the east coast brought even more to Northumberland with site totals elsewhere including; 17 Holy Island, 10 St.Mary's (Whitley Bay) 9 Farnes, 5 Newbiggin, 5 Low Newton, 4 Druridge, 2 Hauxley and singles at Tynemouth and Seaton Sluice.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Nothing to be Cross About

Juvenile Crossbill...our first since 2009 (David Steel)

Feeding in the hemlock (Will Scott)

Showing well as we dont have trees! (David Steel)

First Brambling of the autumn (David Kinchin-smith)

Wildfowl galore (David Kinchin-smith)

Nine Pintail heading over (David Kinchin-smith)
Tuesday 24th September comments: People often ask when is the best time to witness bird migration in action. The spring can be good but the autumn, especially September and October can be brilliant. With an estimated four billion birds moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere for the winter, there is a lot of birds on the move and with a bit of luck (and some help from the weather) things can get very exciting. 

Everything from the largest of swans to the smallest of warblers are on the move and any protruding headland or spit of land can attract birds. The Farnes is arguably one of the best sites on the east coast and today showed just why; a good array of common migrants including an impressive seven Yellow-browed Warblers (all the way from Siberia) and a very tame Crossbill, the islands first since September 2009. Tomorrow could bring more exciting birds so why not join us and see what you can see….

Todays highlights: Velvet Scoter 2N, Pintail 9N, Shoveler 3N, Jack Snipe 3, Greenshank, Skylark, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit 80+ moving though, Redwing 4 (first of the autumn), Ring Ouzel (first of the autumn), Song Thrush 8, Redstart 2, Wheatear 2, Garden Warbler 2, Sedge Warbler 2, Yellow-browed Warbler an impressive 7 (Brownsman 4, Inner Farne 3), Chiffchaff 12, Willow Warbler 3, Whitethroat 2, Blackcap 3, Goldcrest, Pied Flycatcher, Brambling 21 (first of the autumn), Chaffinch, Snow Bunting 2 (first of the autumn) and Reed Bunting.

Sunday 22 September 2013

The Farrrrrrrrnes......

Welcome; Farne pirate style (Graeme Duncan)

Captain Steel keeping a watchful eye (Graeme Duncan)

The Farnes take over complete (David Steel)

David and Bexs pirates

Even skipper Bobby joining in (Laura Shearer)

FIne sunset to cmplete the day (Bex Outram)
Sunday 22nd September comments: Shiver me timbers, hoist the Jolly Rodger, the pirates are here! The Farnes team celebrated their annual ‘pirate day’ in some style as today landlubbers were greeted by the team playing the part of pirates. An enjoyable fun day was had by all and the weather even played its part, so the next time you visit, be warned, you may end up walking the plank....

Saturday 21 September 2013

Butterfly Blues

A rare sight on the islands; Common Blue Butterfly (Ciaran Hatsell)

Common Blue discovered on Brownsman (Ciaran Hatsell)

Migrant butterflies...amazing to see over the sea (Ciaran Hatsell)

Small Copper Butterfly (Anne Wilson)
Saturday 21st September comments: Despite some strong westerly winds earlier in the week, its been another generally settled spell of weather. Today brought some glorious conditions, with very little wind and sunshine, which brought back memories of our stunning summer.

This years good summer was well received by all, from staff to visitors, to our breeding seabirds and the various wildlife of the islands including our Butterflies. It was arguably one of our best summers for a long time for Butterflies which brought noticeable highlights including Common Blue and Small Copper amongst others.

Numbers of common butterflies appeared to be up and breeding has been very successful (judging by the number of caterpillars we've found on the islands!). Let's hope this fine weather continues into the autumn although for the birders in the team, I won't begrudge them a bit some easterly winds...its September after all and anything can happen.  

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Foot Goose

Pink-footed Geese heading over (David Kinchin-smith)

Honk, honk...Pinkie on Inner Farne (David Kinchin-smith)

Autumn is here (Will Scott)

Stunning birds from the east (Will Scott)

Well done Great North Runners; Andy, Bex and Ciaran
Wednesday 18th September comments: It’s been a good day all round as the westerly wind eased, the sun started to shine and the sound of autumn was heard; Pink-footed Geese honking over.

These medium sized Geese are heading west to winter in the UK having been breeding in Iceland and Svalbard in the high arctic. The birds are heading south to wintering grounds in Norfolk and beyond, but are recorded flying past east coast headlands including the Farne Islands.

Today with the wind easing, large numbers started moving with 161 counted including an individual which landed on Inner Farne. The sight of these charismatic birds calling overhead really does herald the arrival of autumn on the islands. The chill in the wind certainly felt like the geese had brought it with them from the arctic, making today feel doubly autumnal!

On a different note our three rangers returned from Great North Run duty, each posting great times including Ciaran who ran the half marathon in 1hr 39mins. It was a great effort by all three and more importantly, each one raising money for good causes. Well done team Farnes.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Rares Review (so far...)

Star of the summer; our Bridled Tern (Ciaran Hatsell)

Celebrated on Steely's Birthday!

Becoming a real rare; Yellow-breasted Bunting (Graeme Duncan)

At long last; the first ever Red Kite for the Farne Islands (Ciaran Hatsell)

One of two Red-backed Shrikes in the spring (David Kinchin-smith)

Two Citrine Wagtails in the autumn (Graeme Duncan)

One of two spring Bluethroats (Bex Outram)

Sunday 15th September comments: As westerly gales grip the islands, the team are catching up on vital paperwork; we have a lot to complete from all our scientific studies during the summer. With the islands closed to the public due to the weather, today gave us the opportunity to review the season so far and where better to start than with our migrant birds.

Following in the footsteps of last year, its been a cracking season so far. Following a slow start to spring, the islands have produced some real noticeable highlights, including three new additions, bringing the Farne Islands bird species list to 300.

Pick of the bunch was a summering Bridled Tern, the first accessible bird for birders since 1991 and only the 24th to have graced the British Isles. Other major highlights included:

Bridled Tern (first for Farnes)

Fea’s Petrel x 2 (6th and 7th Farnes records)

Yellow-breasted Bunting (11th Farnes record and first since 2003)

Black-headed Bunting (6th Farnes record)

Citrine Wagtail x2 (4th and 5th Farnes records)

Pectoral Sandpiper (Farnes first record)

Red Kite (Farnes first record)

Black Kite (2nd Farnes record)

Others: Red-backed Shrike x2, Bluethroat x2, Corncrake, Blue-headed Wagtail, Greenish Warbler x 3, Icterine Warbler x3, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Common Rosefinch.

So its been a good season so far and as we enter peak migration period, we'll hopefully have a few more birds to shout about. As ever, if weather and access allows, we'll be sharing these birds with you, so tune in, its going to get exciting!