Posted by: mynaturaldiary | June 9, 2019

Staple Island

Time to take another trip to the Farne Islands, courtesy of Billy Shiel.

In the harbour were Eider Ducks, know locally as Cuddy Ducks (after St Cuthbert, who lived on the Farnes in splendid isolation).

Eider (Somateria mollissima)

Out at sea the view to Dunstanburgh Castle is spectacular.

The sea is calm. Closer to the Isles, the birds become apparent.

Cormorants have a colony on the rocks.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

They are only a small number of the birds on the islands, and are outnumbered by Shags, which we’ll see shortly.

It’s once the boat rounds the islets we see the Grey Seals basking on the rocks and bobbing in the North Sea.

Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)

The distant Cheviot Hills frame Bamburgh Castle.

As we approach Staple Island the number of birds increases.

On the rocks the Guillemots seem too many to count.

Guillemot (Uria aalge)

Upon landing on Staple Island, you begin to understand that there are 22,000 Guillemots here, as the rocks are covered and the air is full of them.

The colony is vast.

About 1 in 20 Guillemots are the bridled form.

They have a white ring around their eye, compared to the majority which are dark patterned.

The camera manages to freeze their flight pattern well, especially when landing.

They have adapted to fly, but also use those wings to swim underwater up to a depth of 180m in search of its prey, which in these waters are sand eels.

The dark bird in the front of the video above is a Shag.

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

Razorbills are another seabird on the isles, with about 200 birds on Staple Island.

Razorbill (Alca torda)

There are a few Arctic Tern pairs on the island, more on Inner Farne.

Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)

There are about 1800 Kittiwakes present.

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

And Herring Gulls which also nest on the island.

One leaves its nest temporarily…

… then returns.

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Fulmars are a particular favourite of mine, with their elegant tube noses, and stiff winged flight.


In the far distance was a solitary Gannet.

Gannet (Morus bassanus)

Lesser Black Backed Gulls nest on the island with about 50 pairs. They ‘tax’ the local birds to give up their catches, relying on physical presence to intimidate the Puffins.

Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)

There was also a Rock Pipit.

Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus)

Puffins are the other great delight on the island, with about 13,000 birds present.

Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

The air is full of them flying overhead, beaks full of sandeels.

The hour allocated to landing is soon up, and the party heads back to the boat. Sailing back to shore gives fine views of the lighthouse.

and Dunstanburgh Castle.

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