Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Farne Islands Return - Part 1

Well, it’s that time of year again when it’s time to pay a visit to the Farne Islands.  I often take a week or two off work around the busiest time on the islands, when the various chicks are needing regular feeding and, too much later, will have fledged.  As always the weather played a determined part in my going, with Monday looking ok’ish, Tuesday and Wednesday rain forecasted and Thursday, Friday…well the forecasters are hopeless and predicting a reliable weather report that far ahead, so didn’t want to risk waiting. Monday it was.

The whole Farne Islands experience starts with the boat trip around the islands where they stop right up to the cliffs where there is an assortment of nesting birds including Puffins, Shags, Kittiwakes and Guillemots.  There was even a sight of a Gannet.





As well as the birds on the cliffs, you’re taken around the seal colony.  They seemed quite un phased and indifferent by it all, these tourists packed inside a boat gawking at them, despite again, getting close up.





Finally comes the landing on Inner Farne, just one of the islands that makes up the Farnes.  Everybody’s pre warned and ready for what comes next!  Head protection on, as it’s the gauntlet of Terns once you’re off the boat and walk up the board walk, past the Tern nests.  Each year, despite the thousands of visitors, the Terns still nest in the same place, often a few feet away from where people pass.  I suppose the official reason for the attacks is that they are protecting their nests, but watching I can’t help but wonder if they don’t do it because they enjoy it.  I stopped to take one photo of the below Tern who just starred at me with a grumpy look, otherwise I did what I do every year which is walk past, wide angle lens on my camera which is set to the fastest frames per second possible, point up and walk!

Most shots are out of focus or out of frame but the occasional one is just about right.  It’s not so much the pecking I’m concerned about but what the other end of the bird can do and looking at the jackets of the helpers on the island who are there daily, it’s probably wise not to hang around.  Besides you have less than an hour on the island which may seem a while but that time soon goes.





The main part of the trip, at least from a photographic point of view are the Puffins and there is not short supply of them.  The boardwalks continue around the island and through the vegetation where the Puffin burrows are where the chicks are in the nests.  For anyone who has never been to the islands the sight and sound is amazing.  Much like the Terns, the Puffins are also nesting right past where you walk, though unlike the Terns the Puffins have a bit more of a easy going nature – maybe too much so as they have to pass the gauntlet that are the gulls, intent of robbing them of their Sand eel catch.  They fly in and are immediately accosted by the gulls often five or more and have to scramble into their burrows.  Little chance then of the classic photograph of a Puffin with a beak full of the eels then.






Having not even looked at a third of the images taken on the day, I’ve decided to break this down into two different blogs with the second part coming after I’ve had a chance to look at the remaining photographs I took on the day.  Hopefully there might be a few ‘special’ ones.


  1. Hello Frank
    look very nice great photos of the birds, the air photos are absolutely pursing
    greetings Frank

  2. I have never been to the Farne Islands but hope to visit soon, to get photos of Puffin and Shag. Please do you know which island is best for closeup views of Shag