Fat and content - a second coat pup (Graeme Duncan)
Mother and pup (David Andrews)
Snow white (David Andrews)
Only three weeks old... (David Andrews)
Home sweet home, from the cottage window (David Andrews)
The dust has settled, the seals have been counted and its all over foe another year. The Farne grey Seals population experienced a good autumn (for numbers born) but I suspect once all the numbers are crunched, we will (as expected) have lost a few - we run at a loss of 50% in normal years. The final island-by-island totals include:
The season may be over but I've still got plenty to update you all on. A good starting point would be the team - we've been out there since early March and we've welcomed over 45,000 visitors, 183 different bird species, 80,000 breeding seabirds and not forgetting over 1,400 Seal pups. We've had our 'up's and down's along the way, but a big THANK YOU to all the team for another good year - I hope you all enjoyed and you'll all remember the Farnes - its an amazing place but made even better by the people who take care of it. I wish everyone luck and hopefully some of you will return for another year on the islands. So from this head warden, thank-you and enjoy the winter.
Seahouses Harbour like you never seen before - snow galore!
Monday 6th December comments: What an epic. Little did we ever imagine that we would be leaving the islands for the winter in heavy snow! The final few weeks have been cold and bitter at times although we’ve got on with the job and even managed to find some interesting birds – the Stone Curlew was the most outrageous!
Departure day finally arrived on Saturday and as usual, Brownsman was evacuated and everything and everyone was moved to the jetties awaiting the final boat to take us west, to the mainland. The season has had its moments, the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, but at long last, we were leaving.
Having dodged the Grey Seals, the boat arrived on time to collect us and away we went to the frozen wasteland that was the mainland. I’ve never seen snow in Seahouses harbour and the place was covered, so it made life a bit harder but soon the team were in action, moving equipment, sorting recycling and storing boats for the winter.
Eventually the dust (well snow) settled and the team relaxed to celebrate into the small hours of Sunday morning in Seahouses. The season is over and the wardens have gone. Long live the Farnes.
However that not the end of the story. Keep reading as I’ll bring a team roundup, a seal roundup and much more very soon.
Pure brilliance - a sketch sent over by John Steele capturing the moment
Snapping from Brownsman - Stone Curlew (honest!!) on South Wamses (Graeme Duncan)
Wardens in action, Jason and Steely taking shelter (Graeme Duncan)
Wednesday 1st December comments: We see some strange and wonderful things out on the Farnes, but today even made the most optimistic warden gasp in disbelief.
Picture the scene; a cold icy easterly wind blowing for the umpteenth day, snow blizzards coming and going, solid icy ground and marauding Grey Seals on Brownsman. Welcome to 1st December.
So why, oh why did we have a Stone Curlew arrive on the islands?
Stone Curlews breed in southern England in small numbers and usually migrate out of the country by late autumn. The species is a real rarity to Northumberland and the last Farnes record dates back to 1950 when an individual was killed against the Longstone Lighthouse.
This morning resident warden Jason flushed a bird from the vegetable garden on Brownsman, which flew over to the nearby South Wamses. There it remained, amongst Grey Seals on a shingle bank for the majority of the day, much to the delight of the island warden team. What a crazy bird. This bird should be nowhere near the Farnes, or Northumberland, or the North-east come to think about it. We’ll never know where this has come from, but the weird world of the Farnes continues to throw up surprises. Now how does that song go…on the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me….a Stone Curlew on a seal beach…