Monday, 28 April 2014

Wryneck Re-Tern

Our 2nd Wryneck of the year (David Kinchin-Smith)

Can you see me? Wryneck showing well (David Kinchin-Smith)

First summer, male Pied Flycatcher (David Kinchin-Smith)

Gone fishing - Arctic Terns are back! (David Kinchin-Smith)
Monday 28th April comments: The easterly winds have continued for the last few days and with them have come more welcome arrivals to the Farnes. Just a matter of hours ago, our second Wryneck of the year was discovered on Brownsman, making it one for the inner group of islands and one for the outer group. The ‘cryptic critter’ didn’t really live up to its reputation and gave great views, showing well outside the cottage. Other highlights of the day have included stunning male Pied Flycatchers on both Inner Farne and Brownsman and the first record of Scaup for the year, as a drake was picked up briefly heading north earlier in the day.

As far as our breeding birds are concerned it’s been another busy day, with the first Razorbill egg of the year discovered on Staple Island. Meanwhile over on Inner Farne, tern numbers are building and Sandwich Terns have now been joined by both Arctic and Common terns. Numbers are increasing daily and with a roost count tonight of 275 Arctic and Common terns, it won’t be too long until these birds take over and start pecking heads.

So bring your hat and come and see this seabird spectacle. This is the Farnes and there’s no place like it!

Today’s totals: Scaup 1, Greenshank 1, Snipe 1, Little Tern 12, Wryneck 1, Dunnock 1, Wheatear 14, Robin 7, Redstart 2, Song Thrush 7, Blackbird 2, Blackcap 8, Whitethroat 2, Lesser Whitethroat 5, Willow Warbler 17, Chiffchaff 20, Pied Flycatcher 1, Mealy Redpoll, Brambling 3, Linnet 3 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Eider Don't Believe It!

Sitting tight - Our first nesting Eider

Dressed to impress - Drake Eider looking sharp

Barnacle Geese from Inner Farne (Laura Shearer)

Male Ring Ouzel (David Kinchin-Smith)
Friday 25th April comments: What a day it’s been on planet Farnes! We have been shrouded in thick fog all day making the islands feel very murky, but the day has been far from dull. This morning our first Eider nest of the year was discovered in the old veg patch of Inner Farne. The female was sitting tight but allowed us a glimpse of her four eggs. She will be incubating these eggs for around four weeks and then we will be welcoming our first Eider ducklings.

And the bird news continued as a Moorhen was flushed from outside the cottage on Brownsman, representing the first record of this species in two years! This exciting news was soon followed by a large flock of almost 300 Barnacle Geese spotted over the Outer Group, which headed west and were soon giving the Inner Group fantastic views as they passed through the Kettle. Another highlight included a male and female Ring Ouzel on Inner Farne, clearly grounded by the fog.  

These are the Farnes and come rain or shine there’s always something going on – so why not come and see for yourself! 

Today’s totals: Barnacle Goose 290, Shoveler 2, Wigeon 2, Teal 1, Moorhen 1, Golden Plover 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Snipe 2, Wood Pigeon 1, Meadow Pipit 3, Robin 10, Wheatear 5, Song Thrush 9, Fieldfare 20, Blackbird 2, Ring Ouzel 2, Blackcap 6, Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 20, Brambling 9, Linnet 5, Reed Bunting

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Starting to get Ready!

Resplendent Redstart (David Kinchin-Smith)

A steady passage of Wheatears (David Kinchin-Smith)

Good numbers of Chiffchaffs still present (David Kinchin-Smith)

A Linnet soaking up today's sun (David Kinchin-Smith)

The newest additions to Brownsman (David Kinchin-Smith)
Wednesday 23rd April comments: The easterly winds have been blowing these last few days and with them has come some new arrivals to the islands. One of the highlights for both the Inner and Outer Group have been stunning male Redstarts for both islands. Other birds of note have included a Whitethroat on Brownsman today and a Garden Warbler on Inner Farne yesterday, both of which represent the first records of the year.

However, what’s really been evident today and yesterday has been the activity of our breeding birds – Tern numbers are building in the roost, we’ve now had numerous sightings of Guillemot eggs, Puffins have been busy excavating burrows, Rock Pipits have been display flying or ‘parachuting’ and the Outer Groups' first Mallard ducklings took their maiden voyage on Brownsman pond today. Spring certainly has sprung!

Today’s totals: Shoveler 3, Peregrine 1, Purple Sandpiper 132, Snipe 1, Iceland Gull 1, Sand Martin 4, Swallow 5, Meadow Pipit 7, Yellow Wagtail 1, Robin 12, Redstart 3, Wheatear 8, Song Thrush 4, Blackbird 1, Fieldfare 2, Blackcap 3, Whitethroat 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 16, Linnet 3, Goldfinch 1.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Wry-ding The Easterlies

Cryptic critter! Our 1st Wryneck of the year (Laura Shearer)

Yesterday's ringed Pied Flycatcher (David Kinchin-Smith)

Today's Lesser Whitethroat (David Kinchin-Smith)

Keeping warm - our first Guillemot egg! (David Kinchin-Smith)

An unusual sight - a Puffin egg in the entrance to a burrow

Monday 21st April comments: It’s a special time of year on the Farnes. Not only do we have the excitement of our breeding seabirds getting settled on land and laying eggs, but the Farnes also plays host to migratory species of bird which are travelling to their breeding grounds elsewhere in the UK and on the continent. These birds use the islands as a vital refuelling station so that they can feed up and continue on their epic journeys.

Over the last two days a steady stream of migrants has been moving through, aided by an easterly wind. A highlight yesterday was the appearance of a Pied Flycatcher and with continued easterly winds overnight and into today another smattering of migrants had dropped in, including a Lesser Whitethroat. An increasing number of Chiff Chaffs and Willow warblers were busy flycatching throughout the day but the star bird today came mid-afternoon as a Wryneck was spotted from the pele tower window on Inner Farne. The bird gave good but brief views before departing. A good record after a blank year last year.

However, it’s not all about the migrants, following the first Puffin egg on Inner Farne our first Guillemot egg was discovered yesterday safely tucked under an adult. In a few weeks our colony of more than 50,000 individuals will be alive with the sounds of new chicks and we can’t wait! No matter what time of year, there’s always something to see on the Farnes!

With continued easterly winds overnight and rain forecast tomorrow, no doubt we’ll have more new arrivals on the islands.....  

Today’s totals: Kestrel 1, Wheatear 6, Robin 2, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 2, Wryneck 1, Swallow 1, Yellow Wagtail 1, Blackcap 3, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Chiffchaff 22, Willow Warbler 7, Linnet 2, Reed Bunting 1

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Eggs!

Our first Ringed Plover eggs (Em Witcutt)

One proud Mother! (David Kinchin-Smith)

Love is in the air (David Kinchin-Smith)

Shags are egg-cellent parents (David Kinchin-Smith)

Saturday 19th April comments: The breeding season is well underway on the Islands and a number of our nesting birds have now laid their eggs. We had an exciting discovery yesterday as we found our first Ringed Plover eggs of the season near the jetty on Inner Farne. The adult was sitting tight on the nest but allowed us a glimpse of her four delicate eggs.

And today we had big news! Our first of almost 40,000 Puffin eggs was discovered on Inner Farnes’s central meadow. This is a few weeks earlier than last year and reflects the mild winter that the UK has experienced compared to that of last year, which really delayed the start of the season. And most importantly it arrived just in time for Easter day! Now is a great time to visit the Farnes and see all these unique Islands have to offer.  

Happy Easter from all the Farnes Team!

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 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.