South Wamses Seal colony
Saturday, 29 October 2011
South Wamses Seal colony
Thursday, 27 October 2011
Seal team in action (David Steel)
Thursday 27th October comments: The winds (and sea!) finally eased allowing a return to 'normality' on the Farnes. I'm not sure if the Farnes will ever be classified as 'normal', but it was as normal as we could have wished. The team were active from the start, as we headed to the seal colonies to continue our work counting and marking the pups. Due to visitor work (it was a busy day) we completed two island counts and will finish the operation tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Great Grey Shrike dinner - a Brambling speared ready to eat (Ciaran Hatsell)
Today's highlights: Merlin 2, Woodcock 7, Moorhen 1 adult, Pomarine Skua 1 juv, Great Skua 4N, Little Auk 2S, Short-eared Owl, Great Grey Shrike present for second day and killed another Brambling, Black Redstart 4, Blackcap 12, Chiffchaff 5, Willow Warbler and Brambling 11.
Monday, 24 October 2011
Its a stunner; Black Redstart caught in visitor centre (Graeme Duncan)
Monday 24th October comments: The Farnes is back in action. Following a very quiet autumn period, the winds have finally switched to the south-east and with it, a plethora of good birds have arrived. The weekend brought a variety of highlights including six Grey Phalaropes and Corncrake amongst others.
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Saturday, 22 October 2011
That's better, Neil doing well (Ciaran Hatsell)
Saturday 22nd October comments: It's been an enthralling day on the islands as we've seen it all. The day began with a southerly breeze and a rush of excitement as resident warden Ciaran broke the silence with the shout of "TWO GREY PHALAROPES SITTING ON THE SEA!" Moments later I joined him to enjoy this stunning sight, as the birds were feeding just 20 metres offshore from Brownsman, not a bad way to start the day!
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Doing well; pup and mother (Ciaran Hatsell)
Monday, 17 October 2011
Monday 17th October comments: You can tell Seal season is upon us. The team are living on Brownsman, there are a scattering of Seal pups across the colonies and we've got storms, raging westerly storms battering us. Business as usual then.
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Saturday, 15 October 2011
Saturday 15th October comments: The Farnes never fails to disappoint! After the jubilation of yesterday’s Richard’s Pipit, the team were yet again jumping for joy after the discovery of another Farnes speciality: a Bluethroat! A stunning bird was found in the morning on Brownsman, briefly showing well but becoming very elusive at times! The Farnes has become one of the best places in Britain to see this Scandinavian stunner, especially during the autumn as of later years; today’s sighting marking the sixth consecutive year in which it has been recorded.
Inner Farne’s Richard’s Pipit was spotted briefly again today, sticking close to the species’ famously annoying behaviour of refusing to perch or pose on the ground for cameras.
With just a few other common migrants, these two birds really were the star of the show. The warden team are hoping that one or two more surprises will appear shortly to add to the birding bonanza that is the Farne Islands.
Friday, 14 October 2011
Classic Farnes; Yellow-browed Warbler on Longstone Lighthouse (Graeme Duncan)
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Tuesday 11th October comments: And we’re off. The seal pups are starting to appear in greater numbers now, with ten having been born as of yesterday’s count. This means a total of seven have arrived since our last count only 3 days earlier, a sure sign that we’ll soon be right in the middle of pupping season and knee deep in the cute fur-balls! South Wamses is the bigger colony at the moment with six pups, four of which can be easily viewed resting on the shingle beach.
Our first pup is still doing very well, and now at 14 days old it will most likely be under a week before he moults into his adult coat and will be able to take to the water for the first time! Pups two and three are growing well and all three now have very attentive and protective mothers keeping an eye out for them.
In non-seal news, the islands have continued to have good wildfowl passage, with an adult Whooper Swan flying low over Inner Farne today, along with 213 Pink-footed Geese. Sunday’s moderate winds brought good movement of ducks, with large numbers of Wigeon, Teal and Scoter recorded flying across the sea, along with 23 Red-throated Divers. Three Long-tailed Ducks, a male a juvenile and female, showed well in the kettle on the 10th.
Sunday 9th October highlights: Wigeon 651, Teal 304, Red-throated Diver 23, Great Northern Diver 3, Brent Goose 58, Barnacle Goose 82, Common Scoter 104, Velvet Scoter 2, Red-breasted Merganser 1.
Tuesday 11th October totals: Pink-footed Goose 213, Whooper Swan 2, Redwing 5, Song Thrush 3, Blackbird 1, Skylark 1, Dunnock 1, Robin 1, Wren 1, Goldcrest 1, Siskin 1, Peregrine 1.
Monday, 10 October 2011
Saturday, 8 October 2011
Saturday 8th October comments: It’s been lovely weather...for ducks (and geese). Whilst the overcast, damp climate may not be so good for the human denizens of the islands, the migrating wildfowl have been enjoying it greatly.
The wardens recorded the highest ever number of Barnacle Geese on the Farnes, with 1405 of these winter wanderers passing over the islands today. Having finished breeding in their northern territories such as Svalbard, they are now heading south-west to overwinter on the Solway Firth. One skein of 70 also included a first winter Whooper Swan cygnet, tagging along for the ride! 6 pale-bellied Brent Geese were also recorded flying north over Inner Farne.
The day brought in good numbers of ducks as well, with three long-tailed ducks recorded, including a female and beautifully long-tailed male showing well in the kettle. Seawatching also produced 17 Mallard, 7 Pintail, 43 Wigeon, 41 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 13 Common Scoter and 2 Velvet Scoter, not a bad haul indeed!
As if not wanting to be bested by the wildfowl, the Islands also produced good records of divers, with 27 Red Throated, 3 Black Throated and 2 Great Northern Divers spotted by the team. A much admired Slavonian Grebe winged its way northwards along the Inner Sound, the first of the year, a cracking winter plumaged adult. Keeping with the firsts of the year, a winter plumage Black Guillemot or “Teisty” briefly landed on the Inner Sound before heading northwards, whilst the first Twite of the autumn was spotted flying amongst Inner Farne’s lingering flock of Linnet. Three late Sandwich Terns were also seen around the islands, possibly the last to be seen before they return to breed next April!
In other news, it appears three is the magic number, as our third grey seal pup has been born on the islands. Found on the North Wamses on the 7th October not too far from pup number 2, he should be in good company as he grows up! Large gatherings of females are now appearing on the rocks and tops of the islands, with only one purpose in mind, it won’t be long until the outer group of islands is speckled white!
Saturday 8th October totals: Whooper Swan 1, Barnacle Goose 1405, Pale-bellied Brent Goose 6, Mallard 17, Pintail 7, Wigeon 43, Teal 41, Tufted Duck 1, Common Scoter 13, Velvet Scoter 2, Long-tailed duck 3, Red Throated Diver 27, Black Throated Diver 3, Great Northern Diver 2, Slavonian Grebe 1, Peregrine 1, Oystercatcher 60+ in roost, Golden Plover 2, Great Skua 2, Arctic Skua 3, Sandwich Tern 3, Black Guillemot 1, Dunnock 1, Wheatear 2, Song Thrush 1, Redwing 2, Chiffchaff 1, Goldcrest 2, Wren 2, Brambling 1, Linnet 8, Twite 1.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Tuesday 4th October comments: Old man westerly has awoken once more, with forecasts showing at least a week of strong winds from our least favourite direction! The change in direction has quashed any hopes of further rare migrants for the time being, and will put a stop to the passage of Scandinavian migrants such as Redwing and Song Thrush, as they get pushed into the European Continent.
Monday, however, brought another Siberian surprise to Brownsman island, as yet another Yellow-browed Warbler was found by the pond. This tame individual was viewed well by the two resident wardens. Inner Farne played host to the first Jack Snipe of the autumn, and a lingering Yellow-browed Warbler from the previous day.
A welcome addition was a second seal pup, discovered on the North Wamses, and most likely one day old. Our first seal pup is still going strong on the South Wamses, and has put on quite a bit of weight; he can often be seen being suckled by his attentive mother on the shingle beach. With many pregnant mothers now congregating on the islands, and bull seals hauling themselves onto the rocks keeping an eye out for potential opportunities, it won’t be long until the seal breeding season is well underway.
By this morning, most of the birds have gone from the islands, though a few Brambling and thrushes remain, along with Wheatear and Willow Warblers. The warden team is hoping that the westerly winds will break sooner rather than later, bringing an opportunity both for viewing migrant birds and for getting supplies and showers on the mainland!
Hopefully the strong westerly winds bring our head warden David, Jamie and all the Fair Isle team some rare American vagrants...
Monday 3th October totals: Redwing 13, Song Thrush 12, Brambling 2, Goldfinch 2, Redpoll 3, Linnet 23, Siskin 2, Blackcap 2, Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 5, Willow Warbler 7, Yellow-browed Warbler 1, Goldcrest 9, Pied Flycatcher 1, Skylark 4, Wheatear 10, Pied Wagtail 2, Meadow Pipit 23W, Tree Pipit 1, Reed Bunting 2, Jack Snipe 1, Dunlin 9, Manx Shearwater 1N, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1.
Sunday, 2 October 2011
Sunday 2nd October comments: Well, what a weekend we’ve had. Light easterly(ish) winds and damp misty conditions gave the islands perfect weather for a fall of migrants and it didn’t disappoint!
The Saturday morning sunrise dawned on our resident Kestrel roosting on the Brownsman sticks, surrounded by a plethora of migrant passerines including two male Blackcaps and 11 Brambling, whilst the ever-present female Peregrine watched from the south end of the island. It wasn’t long before the Kestrel was off hunting for butterflies and snatched a red admiral out of the air 5 meters away from the Brownsman team, an awesome sight!
As the (human) visitors arrived on Inner Farne, thrushes in their hundreds began to pour over the island, with over 700 Redwing and over 120 Song Thrush recorded both flying overhead and resting on the ground. The sight was a welcome bonus for the visiting public, who enjoyed the spectacle, a true Farnes experience! It truly was a sight to behold, a full-on demonstration of migration in action.
Then, as the team gave the island a proper walk-around after visitors left, a call went out on the radio. Not one, but three Yellow-browed Warblers had been found in the Lighthouse garden on Inner Farne! These tiny Siberian sprites were contentedly feeding around the dock stalks, providing excellent views to the admiring warden team. The team were relieved to finally get a fall of these beautiful birds after jealously watching them crop up on the Northumberland coast all autumn!
As if this wasn’t enough, a pipit was discovered on top meadow. After brief views led to the initial assumption of Tree Pipit, further glimpses allowed the team to confirm that it was in fact the fourth ever Olive-backed Pipit to be seen on the Farnes! The bird gave brief but good views, allowing all present to appreciate the finer points of its identification. Breeding in Siberia and wintering in south Asia, a few of these birds fly the wrong way due to winds and inexperience and end up on our coastline.
Sunday brought in more surprises, with Brownsman playing host to a variety of birds of prey. Two Kestrels, a Peregrine and two Short-eared Owls graced the skies above the outer group of islands, playing havoc with the passerines. The real star of the show, however, was the female Hen Harrier. This upland wanderer quartered above both Staple and Brownsman for most of the day, providing spectacular viewing, before finally heading west (once the mist had briefly cleared) over Inner Farne and on to the mainland. Later on in the day, although the Olive-backed Pipit was no longer present, the Yellow-browed Warbler count on Inner Farne increased to four. Cracking stuff!
Saturday 1st October totals: Redwing 768, Song Thrush 129, Blackbird 16, Brambling 53, Redpoll 4, Snow Bunting 1, Reed Bunting 4, Tree Pipit 2, Olive-backed Pipit 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 3, Blackcap 2, Goldcrest 2, Red-throated diver 11, Velvet Scoter 1, Black Tern 1, Peregrine 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 2, Great Skua 3.
Sunday 2nd October totals: Redwing 92, Song Thrush 71, Blackbird 10, Brambling 21, Redpoll 11, Chaffinch 6, Linnet 4, Siskin 2, Reed Bunting 5, Tree Pipit 7, Meadow Pipit 125, Dunnock 4, Yellow-browed Warbler 4, Chiffchaff 4, Willow Warbler 6, Blackcap 6, Goldcrest 8, Robin 2, Skylark 8, Swallow 2, Wheatear 6, Lapwing 2, Black-tailed Godwit 1, Hen Harrier 1, Short-eared Owl 3, Kestrel 2, Great Northern Diver 1.