Posted by: mynaturaldiary | June 5, 2016

A bit of a swell

This blog is now 8 years old (Happy Birthday, Pageant!) and to celebrate, it took another trip to the Farne Islands, courtesy of

160605#3941

Based in the local port of Seahouses, Northumbria, the boats fly the Northumbrian flag with pride.

160605#3938

Arriving early enough for a landing on the two main islands supporting seabird colonies, your humble author was told that ‘there was a bit of a swell’, which meant only a trip around Staple Island, but extra time on Inner Farne.

farne islands map

Before setting off, Seahouses harbour revealed the following. First a skein of Pink-footed geese, heading north along the coast.

160605#3933

Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)

And in the harbour, Herring Gulls (waiting for chips, or anything else).

160605#3937

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

So are the Black headed gulls

160605#3940

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Also a delightful Eider Duck (known locally as Cuddy Ducks, after St Cuthbert, the patron Saint of Northern England, who lived on Inner Farne in the seventh century, as a Hermit before becoming the Bishop of Lindisfarne).

160605#3906

Eider (Somateria mollissima)

We’ll see some more pictures of female Eider ducks later on.

Out at sea, Grey seals were around many on the smaller islands to the North of Staple Island.

160605#4024

Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)

They are most curious at our presence.

160605#4016

160605#4013

160605#4008

On land they seem more relaxed.

160605#4288

160605#4304

Staple Island is home to thousands of Guillemots. The swell prevented landing here, but we circled the islands to get a flavour.

160605#4342

160605#4336

Close up, they look extremely streamlined.

 

160605#4112

Guillemot (Uria aalge)

They seem as though their wings aren’t big enough to give them lift to fly, but they manage fine.

160605#4378

160605#4233

160605#4359

When they come into land, the camera manages to freeze their movement in a certain way. You can see their tail feathers and webbed feet being used as airbrakes.

160605#4245

160605#4243

160605#4255

160605#4257

160605#4251

160605#4136

160605#4534

They run across the water to get airborne at sea.

160605#4046

160605#4048

And sit happily on the water.

160605#4126

160605#4115

160605#4116

About 1/100 of the Guillemots have a white eye ring.

160605#4269

160605#4207

160605#4238

160605#4096

160605#4482

Bridled Guillemot (Uria aalge)

Occasionally, you see two close together.

160605#4219

160605#4215

A similar looking bird is the Razorbill, with a thicker set bill.

160605#4085

Razorbill (Alca torda)

The white stripe on their bill is qute distinctive.

160605#4066

In flight they are more compact than Guillemots.

160605#4191

160605#3972

Their legs are tucked under their tail, as opposed to the Guillemots, which extend beyond it.

The other member of the auk family commonly seen on the islands are the delightful Puffins. There are thousands of them breeding on the islands, especially Inner Farne.

160605#4770

160605#4491 (12)

160605#4770

160605#4773

160605#4660

160605#4785

160605#4779

Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

In the air they are often seen carrying sand eels for their young.

160605#4560

160605#4657

160605#4780

160605#4755

160605#4681

160605#4640

(you can see the skies get quite busy with puffins flying in all directions!)

They look interesting when landing, with trailing orange legs as air brakes.

160605#4171

160605#4172

160605#4563

160605#4513

On the ground they waddle ungainly, and stand near passing people, with no worries.

160605#4467

160605#4469

160605#4518

160605#4575

160605#4582

160605#4584

160605#4594

I wonder at how they catch multiple sand eels when they fish underwater, and how they carry them.

160605#4491 (5)

160605#4491 (8)

160605#4550

They manage somehow.

Shags and Cormorants also cover the islands.

160605#4033

160605#4034

160605#3924

160605#4041

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

A picture from the Jurassic?

Cormorants have a white patch under their neck and  yellow around their bill. Shags are darker and smaller.

160605#4058

160605#4474

160605#4475

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

They feed their fluffy down covered chicks.

160605#4477

Kittiwakes are one of the regular gulls on the islands.

160605#4449 (1)

160605#4247

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

As are Black-headed Gulls.

160605#4562

160605#4753

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Their chicks are especially cute.

160605#4749

These are tempting targets for one of the top predators on the islands; Great Black backed Gulls, who are powerfully build, and will take whatever prey they can.

160605#4598

160605#4597

Great Black Backed Gull (Larus marinus).

Fulmars are wonderful seabirds, which a fixed wing flight that is quite unique.

160605#4449 (2)

160605#4546

Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

They also have a tube nose, which is unusual.

160605#4319

The final glory of the Farnes this time of year are the Terns.

The most commonplace are the Arctic terns, with their bright red mouths.

160605#4406

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

At this time of year, they are still mating.

160605#4416

160605#4422

160605#4422 (1)

and mostly nesting. The chicks have not hatched yet. They are very beautiful to watch in flight.

160605#4410

160605#4721

160605#4411

160605#4716

160605#4720

160605#4729

160605#4733

160605#4737

160605#4739

160605#4725

160605#4736

Sandwich terns are more powerfully built than Arctic terns.

160605#4422 (6)

Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

Note the difference in bill colour, black with a yellow tip.

160605#4422 (7)

160605#4422 (8)

160605#4706

Last, but not least are Common Terns. These have red bills, with a black tip at the end.

160605#4404

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

All in all, a super day out.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: