Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
Today's totals: Sooty Shearwater 33N, Manx Shearwater 357N, Great Skua 15N 9S, Arctic Skua 3N 15S and Storm Petrel 2N.
Saturday, 27 August 2011
Friday, 26 August 2011
Stunning in flight (Graeme Duncan)
Friday 26th August comments: The Farnes…it’s a crazy place. The seabirds have gone, the islands are quiet but a switch in wind direction at this time of year can result in an arrival of migrant birds. The last 24hours has been no different, as the wind has blown from the east and sure enough, the islands have not disappointed.
First the radios crackled as the team had discovered a Little Egret below the lighthouse on Longstone. Little Egrets have gone though an amazing change in the past decade on a national scale, as good numbers now breed throughout the UK, but on the Farnes, they remain rare. Soon after the news broke, all nine wardens were assembled on the Longstone and were enjoying the Farnes third ever Little Egret and the first since 2003.
More was to follow today as two stunning Wrynecks arrived, as individuals performed well on Inner Farne and Brownsman, with a light scattering of common migrants. It’s been a good spell and hopefully this is just the start of things to come…
Sunday, 21 August 2011
Last of the Puffins (Andy Denton)
Sunday 21st August comments: Late August is a quiet time on the Farnes as the majority of our breeding seabirds have gone and only a handful remain. The last few breeding Puffins can be seen daily although as they are feeding hungry chicks, they spend one a brief moment on the islands before disappearing in search for more food. I did wonder whether these late besters enjoy having the place to themselves, after all, the waters around the Farnes have plenty of fish but with less competition!
The warden team are busy working on various management aspects of the islands including plenty of vegetation work alongside some ground preparation for next year. Small numbers of migrants are filtering through the islands including a stunning Wood Warbler recently, but any switch in wind direction to the east will bring a lot more birds. Watch this space, the forecast next week looks very very interesting….
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Sunday 14th August comments: Continuing the theme of having a look at the sometimes overlooked aspects of the Farnes, today’s blog looks at the islands’ non mammalian sea and shorelife.
The seas around the Farne Islands are incredibly rich in nutrients, which allow the water to support a vast number and diversity of animals (and plants!) The most obvious and numerous of these is the sand-eel, the plankton-eating fish which supports an entire population of breeding seabirds and seals, but there are many more critters to be found in Farnes waters. In the summer months, huge swarms of common or “moon” jellyfish come to the warming seas, accompanied by the purple Cyanea lamarkii and red lion’s mane jellyfish, the only stinging locally British jelly.
Amongst the rocks and boulders of the shoreline, swimming, shore and edible crabs await their next meals alongside the plentiful lobster and smaller squat lobsters. There are however many more weird, and wonderful small creatures here. Tiny but beautiful nudibranchs or sea-slugs (not a very attractive name for something so nice!) can be found amongst the rocks, sand mason worms build peculiar tubular homes from the ground around them and young fish hide in crevices from any would-be predators.
The Farnes wardens, along with a team from Natural England, perform surveys on the islands’ rocky shores to keep an eye on the sea’s general state. Much like the butterflies and moths, as well as being incredibly interesting to look at, the small shoreline creatures with their fast reproduction and short lifespans provide a very up-to-date view on the water’s health. A change in the populations of these shoreline beasts could be a warning of changes to come in the much longer-lived breeding seabirds, allowing the wardens to take action on a problem before it is too late.
Friday, 12 August 2011
Friday 12th August comments: Well, our first sample of ‘rare’ weather this autumn – easterly flavoured winds and rain – occurred yesterday and has brought in quite a haul. With visitor boats stranded for the day due to the high swell, wardens were able to thoroughly check the islands for any migrants that dropped in throughout the day, and did they ever! Although the fall didn’t produce any big rares, the sheer number of other migrants made the day enjoyable for all, as Whitethroats and Pied Flycatchers showed well for onlookers. Two Grasshopper Warblers were found skulking in the orache fields of Staple Island, staying true to form and flushing at very close range before heading deep into the vegetation again for another run. Hopefully this marks the beginnings of a good autumn migration season for the Farnes...
And on another note, a happy birthday today to our glorious leader and head warden David Steel, currently enjoying his 11th year on the Farnes, his knowledge and experience keeps the whole place running smoothly and the Farnes has definitely improved significantly under his reign. Best wishes from the whole team here on the Farnes!
11th August highlights: Pied Flycatcher 4 lingering on both Inner Farne and outer group islands, Sedge Warbler 2, 1 Reed Warbler managed to find the only grassy area on Longstone, Garden Warbler 4, Whitethroat 3, Grasshopper Warbler 2 on Staple, Whinchat 3, Wheatear 5, Spotted Flycatcher 1 showing on Inner Farne, Lapwing 2 settled on Inner Farne’s north rocks and a flyover of a Greenshank and Green Sandpiper.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Wednesday 10th August comments: The Farnes is well known for its birds, both breeding and migratory, and with these obvious and beautiful creatures constantly reminding us of their presence; it’s often easy to overlook the smaller, but just as beautiful beasts.
The Farnes also plays host to Lepidoptera – butterflies and moths – and this year is rife with them, especially now what we’re into August! On the 5th and 6th of August alone, 86 butterflies of 11 species were recorded. These included a Dark Green Fritillary (8th for the Farnes), Comma (3rd record), 11 Painted Ladies, and over 30 Red Admiral all on the 5th.
The night is equally as hectic, as wardens have lured plenty of moths into their traps too. Dark Swordgrass, the migrating Silver Y, the spectacular Garden Tiger, Burnished Brass and Hummingbird Hawkmoths have all been caught, proving the farnes really is the place to be for any beast with wings! Ghost Moths are abundant, their lavae feeding on the island’s dock roots, whilst Dark Arches and Dark Spinach are found in huge numbers. This is by no means an exhaustive list - in total over 2700 moths of 95 different species have been caught so far!
Lepidoptera are useful fast indicators of environmental change, due to their rapid population turnover, so their numbers on the Farnes are closely monitored. And being such spectacular critters to view, it’s not an arduous task at all.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Tuesday 2nd August comments: It seems that the summer ‘dead zone’ is finally over, and the first migrants are starting to make their way to the Farnes on their journey to their wintering grounds. Large numbers of waders are beginning to gather on the islands’ rocky shores, and the Farnes has boasted flocks of up to 315 Golden Plover, over 200 Turnstone and 280 Knot.
Arctic and Great Skua are being sighted regularly, with some very close views of the former today as one lingered over the Inner Farne jetty.
Smaller birds are also on the move, with a bright young Willow Warbler showing well on Brownsman on 30th July along with a female Black Redstart. Just to remind us that this wasn’t a one-off early occurrence, we were visited today by a Yellow Wagtail and a moulting adult Black Tern, which showed well for visitors on the rocks to the south of Inner Farne jetty.
Here’s hoping that this is a sign for an oncoming deluge of migrants. We’ll be keeping our eyes to the skies and keeping you all updated!