Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Territorial Tussles

Kissing Puffins? I don't think so... (David Kinchin-smith)

Fighting begins (David Kinchin-smith)

Territorial dispute (David Kinchin-smith)

Early season Puffins (David Kinchin-smith)

Wednesday 16th April comments: The Puffins are still coming and going on a daily basis but there are clear signs that the birds are starting to settle. Freshly cleaned out burrows and courtship is very evident in the 40,000+ breeding pairs across the Farnes.

However it’s not all hugs and kisses as territorial disputes are cropping up as rival males spar, with some contests turning ugly. However despite the brutal nature, all usually ends well and soon the neighbours are accepting of each other and getting on with the job in hand. It’s the Farnes, it’s the breeding season and its all go!

Monday, 14 April 2014

April Anticipation

Kittiwake pairing up (Laura Shearer)

Every cliff ledge has a pair (Laura Shearer)


Stunning birds; Kittiwakes (Laura Shearer)

Monday 14th April comments: The stop-start season continues as the majority of Puffins and Guillemots have departed for the open sea although Shags remain on eggs with a few other species starting to step up their breeding behaviour.

The graceful Kittiwake's have returned to the cliff ledges in good numbers (4,000 pairs nest on the Farnes) and pair bonding and even nest building has commenced. Soon we'll be inundated with seabirds as Sandwich Tern numbers continue to increase (we've now got up to 300 in the evening roost) and those Auks will finally settle and then it will be all go! You have been warned.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

How Auk-ful!

The fight for cliff space begins (David Kinchin-smith)

No inch spared (David Kinchin-smith)


Get out! (David Kinchin-smith)


Bruised but okay (David Kinchin-smith)

Wednesday 9th April comments: It’s all go on the Farnes as at long last we are enjoying a settled weather spell following two weeks of cold easterly winds and thick fog. The seabirds are responding as more and more Shags are laying eggs whilst Puffins are starting to settle after a much needed “spring-clean” of their burrows.

On the cliff-tops, the arguments and battles for cliff space has begun and the Guillemots were at it today. The Farnes boast over 50,000 individual Guillemots and every inch is fought over. Today a battle between two rival birds was observed and the injuries sustained were not life threatening but looked painful all the same. After a long winter at sea, the urge to reproduce is strong and tempers are high!

Its dog eat dog world out here, but this is the Farnes and it’s nature at its best!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Sandwich Filler

Returning in good numbers...Sandwich Terns

Soon to be nesting!

Saturday 5th April comments: Our attention is slowly turning to our nesting seabirds as the spring progresses and more birds return. Sandwich Terns have spent the winter off West Africa (got more sense than us!) and have winging their way north over the last few weeks.

The evening roost count today produced 43 with numbers increasing daily. It won’t be long before we have them displaying over the islands and the main colony on Inner Farne will be alive with the sound of nesting Terns.
On the migration front it was a case of summer meets winter this morning as a male Ring Ouzel was discovered on Inner Farne just moments after thirteen Long-tailed Ducks flew north. It’s all change and full steam ahead as the nesting season is fast approaching!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Unsettled Seabirds

Shags displaying and now on eggs (David Steel)

Fulmar's now paired up (David Steel)

Stunning birds (David Steel)

Migrants numerous including Goldcrests

Thursday 3rd April comments: The continued easterly winds ensure the temperatures remain cool (just ask the team; its cold at night!) but the migrant birds continue to pour in. The seabirds remain unsettled as the auks have moved back out to sea although the number of Shags on eggs has increased.

Today brought another new egg laying species; as a Mallard was discovered nesting in the undergrowth. Hopefully the weather will settle soon and we’ll be boasting plenty more nesting species as we expect Guillemot and Puffin by mid-month.

On the migration front, plenty more birds have been on the move including good numbers of Thrushes including Redwings and Fieldfare. Three Black Redstarts remain ‘resident’ whilst Robins are numerous alongside several Chiffchaffs, Wheatears and Dunnocks.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Great April Fall

Great start, Great bird (David Kinchin-smith)

First Great Tit in nine years! (David Kinchin-smith)

Common 'Mealy' Redpoll for second day (David Steel)

Black Redstart meets Puffins (David Steel)


Robin influx....no trees to hide in!

Tuesday 1st April comments: WHAT a start! The grand opening day to the season arrived with torrential downpours, which gave way to Puffins galore with a side order of migrants. A few brave hardy souls ventured out to the islands to greet us as we opened our doors for the first time this season whilst the seabird, especially Puffins, were present in huge numbers.

On the passage migrant front, things have really picked up in recent days as we’ve experienced a good Robin influx alongside good numbers of Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Meadow Pipits.

On the more unusual front; a Short-eared Owl was an unwelcome guest for the resident large Gulls to mob, whilst a Water Rail scratching at the window of the Pele Tower was very unusual! Throw in two Black Redstarts, Common ‘Mealy’ Redpoll and a Jack Snipe, it’s been a canny start.

However the ‘bird of the day’ belonged to a singing GREAT TIT on Brownsman. Not that unusual you say? Well it’s the first record of Great Tit on the Farne Islands since a bird was on Brownsman on 1 April 2005 (strange timing or what!).
Anyway here goes for another crazy season on Planet Farnes. Hold onto your hats…here we go…..

Fair-ground Island


Longstone with its new helter-skelter (Graeme Duncan)

Tuesday 1st April comments: It's the news we have been waiting for as the Farne Islands have been given permission to build its very own theme park. The concept is to help attract a different audience to the Farnes as thrill seekers will flock to this new attraction. Designs include a helter-skelter around the famous Longstone Lighthouse, a zip-wire from the Pele Tower into the sea and a giant slide off lighthouse cliff which will hopefully be used by visitors and seabirds alike. Work will commence later this year with the attractions opening in early 2015.