The Farne Islands, Northumberland

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The purpose of the trip was to see the Puffins. Madam was not disappointed for how could she be with thousands in the sea, flying over it, flying over us and underneath our feet. We left the harbour at Seahouses aboard The Glad Tidings to head out towards The Farne Islands. There was plenty to see with Terns, Shags, Puffins and Gannets all around us. We were unable to land on Staple Island but we ‘ hove to’ alongside cliffs of sheer rock covered in a white dressing – you could smell it too. The rocks were covered with Guillemots and every niche had a Kittiwake clinging to it – telling us their name constantly. There were still a few Razorbills that had delayed their departure just for us with the occasional Fulmar showing. Grey/Atlantic Seals were plentiful and they are good fun to watch. Thankfully, there is a good population of them here.

We were able to land on Inner Farne. Arctic Terns were everywhere mostly within feet of us and not shy to show there annoyance at the intruders. Intrusion of the human kind you may think would seriously affect them but the alternative is true. It may be that us humans give protection and reduce predation which was what the breeding results showed. There was also a colony of Sandwich Terns with a smaller number of Common Tern also breeding on this rocky island. For Michelle, she came for ‘The Puffins’ and she saw thousands and did her best to get some good shots. They fly fast and furious and to capture one in flight is difficult. She did very well but you will have to wait to see her results. We did get close up and personal when one of the wardens showed us one that he had caught. They are beautiful, amazing and funny birds. What a privilege to see so many in a small area. For me, being that close to so many seabirds, was a great experience. It was a good learning day. We returned to harbour on a sea that was as though it was a slightly ruffled cloth of silk shining under a re-emerging summer sun. A roadside pub beckoned which quenched our thirst and gave time to reflect on another good day.