Monday, 27 April 2009

Seals Galore!

A first-year Grey Seal, out on the rocks
A splendid female Blackcap

Monday 27th April
At last - rain! The Farnes has had a good spell of sunny weather and its almost six weeks since we have had any rain (honest it’s been that dry!). So drizzle late afternoon was most welcome and I took a walk out around the island at the same time, which was rather refreshing. As well as rain, the day also brought a stiff breeze from the south resulting in no boats sailing today, but as usual, the team didn’t stand still, as strimming and cleaning were on the agenda (as well as plenty of paperwork for this head warden….it was a Monday after all).

A check of the Grey Seals reveals numbers are high as it’s a great time to see them, as most are in a state of moult and prefer to be on land, so they can scratch their winter coats off (good amounts of fur can be found on the rocks at present). The islands are currently littered with seals, with most of the bulls on the South Wamses whilst the cows appear to be lingering around Longstone. The first-year animals (last years young pups including Nemo and Lucky) can be found scattered across all the islands including on the jetty on Inner Farne yesterday, so we’ve still got them with us in good numbers. However they don’t really go anywhere, so anytime is a good time to see Seals on the Farnes although admittedly, nothing quite beats the autumn!

As for birds, a drake Garganey brought a splash of colour to the islands today whilst Little Terns have returned – with two appearing at the evening roost on Saturday 25th April and have been with us since. The birds increase throughout May, roosting on the beach on Inner Farne, until dispersing to nearby breeding colonies along the Northumberland coast (they don’t breed on the islands!). At present we have 8 tonight, but no doubt more will follow. Interestingly the Farnes had a bat last night (a real rare out here) as one was seen hawking around the Chapel on Inner Farne at dusk probably our only sighting of the year! One bit of happy news: the Mallard chicks from one nest have hatched – out first chicks of the year.

Weather: S 5-6 decreasing 4 with drizzle, overcast

Highlights: Manx Shearwater 1 north – our first of the year, Bar-tailed Godwit 1 summer plumage, Black-tailed Godwit 1 summer plumage bird on Brownsman, Sandwich Tern 800, Arctic Tern 146, Little Tern 7, Garganey – stunning drake in the kettle off Inner Farne – the Farnes 18th record and the first since 4th May 2006, Collared Dove – our first of the year – very uncommon out here, House Martin, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest.

Breeding birds: Mallard with 15 ducklings on pond today having hatched young from the nest in the Lighthouse compound, more Guillemots with eggs, another increase in nesting Eiders, Red-breasted Merganser – the breeding pair return to Farnes waters, Kittiwakes nest building and Sandwich Terns inspecting nest sites.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Oh thank you for the seals news! So glad to hear that last year's "stars" Nemo and Lucky are still around.
Your mallard has just beaten our local one, she has 12 ducklings, spent some time taking photos yesterday but they move very fast!
Glad you all keep busy even if it rains!