Monday, 28 May 2012

Blinded by the Light

Hiya! Welcome to the summer....

Well well well. As many people have said over eons and eons before me: 'What a diference a day makes'. The Icterine Warbler clearly ushered some continental warmth over us as this past week has boasted some superb weather! Usually for migrant hunters this means a lack of birds but as usual the Farnes bucks the trend. However hot settled weather at this time of year often tricks southern birds into overshooting their intended destination, allowing them to arrive, somewhat perplexed, on an island in the North Sea. So I'll begin. Some fantastic evening trips eastward have been had chasing quality birds in the form of Red-breasted Flycatcher and Short-toed Lark, thats alot of hypens!! Anways pictures are better than words so shove these either side of your nose:

This 1st summer male 'RB Flicka' showed very well in the evening sun.

As did this Short-toed Lark the next day...

The queerness continued with 2 Collared Dove, 1 Wood Sandpiper and 1 Little Egret (4th Farnes Record) all being recorded recently while the rest of the islands held pretty much nothing in terms of migrants.

I love Wood Sands! They make my ears itch!

This Tree Pipit hung around for a while, presumably to keep our migrant totals ticking over.

And now ladies and gentlemen..the main event. Horny breeders! The sun got them all panking, huffing and puffing. Sweating from their throats! Anyway the season is really hotting up with Black-headed Gull, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Eider chicks all showing well along with various other virtually pornographic featherfests. And all of this means one thing for me...hard work! My breeding bird monitoring has picked up and tomorrow we rise early to partake in one of the best aspects of the Farnes...Cliffcounts! The data we record will go towards overall population research and monitoring that will help determine future conservation and so on. Basically we are the front-line, those on the ground, making the difference. It feels amazing! This is why I do it:

Check the gape. Hashtag yellow. Guillemots

Female Eider and chicks in creche.

Puffin love.

Arctic Tern dreads. A beautiful form of predator avoision/confusion tactic.

Its been that hot...Arctic Tern thermo-regulating

Guillemot vista (with my home in the background). Sick.

Common Terns getting adventurous on the mud...

male Shelduck standing guard while his bird incubates underground...somewhere!

The warm air and currents have also brought some non-avian hightlights in the form of many Diamond-backed Moths, coinciding with the arrival of the scarcities on Brownsman..with peaks of 23 on Staple and 20 on Inner Farne the following day. While the marine realm produced in the form of some Ctenophores...I have no idea what species!

See you on the other side....

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Mellow Yellow

Can it get any better?!? Icterine Warbler on the same bench that has held Bluethroat, Greasshopper Warbler and Ring Ouzel this year.

WOW! Ok so you probably realised how 'crippled' in mind, body and soul I was by the Icterine Warbler on Longstone End, the bird was super mellow and showed very very well. Anyway I'm getting side-tracked by how amazing it was....

A tour around the islands by boat produced some nice vistas plus a late summer plumaged Sanderling, a rare bird on the Farnes which I managed to snap from the boat...just!

The last few days have been mostly foggy then sunny and hot. At last. hashatg pysched. So you'd expect more birds to turn up right? Well with the Farnes being on fire this year a Icterine Warbler decided to drop in! I was woken (it was my day off) to the sound of Andy going 'Sorry to wake you but there's an Icky at the Lighthouse' to which I replied 'Fuck!'. Minutes later we were getting mega views as it flicked about and I returned later and managed to get some of the best photos I've ever taken! Although the birght sunshine and the mellow Icterine Warbler 10ft away should take most of the credit...

What a vista..Icterine - Bamburgh Castle combo. Farnesfest.

If you ever visit the Farnes dont bother looking for rares in the vegetation, just check the blue ropes!

Nice view of the long wings, with lots of fringings on both tertials and coverts. Looks like a worn younster from last year?

The wind is in the South-Southeast and with more fog tomorrow expect some eye popping madness. Eyes to the skies!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Our End of the Earth

Longstone and Longstone End, the eastern end of our world and mega for migrant birds.

What a strange day, the odd whiff of NNE breeze and rolling bouts of low visibility didn't do it for my home, Inner Farne, however the outer group went mental! A female Redstart and Whitethroat skulking around the Veg Patch this morning hinted that birds were dropping but it wasn't til early afternoon when Staple closed that the lads out east struck oil.

Initially a call saying 'Bluethroat Brownsman' came through, then 'Cuckoo Longstone', then '2 Bluethroats Longstone End!' Whoa whoa whoa! Whats going on?! We had no birds so it was a strange feeling knowing how much could be, and evidently was out there!

Anyway, like any sane group of people we steamed out east for 2 miles to the great and mighty collection of slippery rocks that are Longstone and Longstone End. Birds were immediately evident with several Willow Warbler (including a totally grey/white bird) along with Whitethroat and Robin all flitting among the rocks. Duly the ultimate crevice hopper, the female Bluethroat showed and whist watching this beauty an Icterine Warbler pounced into view! A bird many have lost hours of their life dipping on was now casually flicking across rocks 10ft away. This is an aspect of Farnes birding I will always cherish, seeing birds so out of their element yet still doing well, and allowing brilliant views to boot!

Maritime Grassland - Icterine Warbler combo. A. May. Zing.

From here on it was time for another twitch, this time the Cuckoo on Longstone main, and a Farnes tick and bird I unfortunately see less and less of these days (mainly cos I'm on the Farnes). Our luck continued as the bird appeared intstantly giving good, if not distant views as it was mobbed by Rock Pipits, Gulls and's hoping for some nice ginger babies this summer!

Other migrants were about in small numbers including this stunning Lesser Whitethroat:

Lesser Whitethroat in, on and around Longstone Lighthouse.

Well that was today. What will I be writing tomorrow?!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Steady Rollin'

The morning after the fall before....An unlucky Whitethroat who met its match with our Red-backed Shrike

The season feels like its picking up pace, as the monster fall was preceeded by a monster clear-out the day after, followed by some monster last! Eggs and chicks were popping out everywhere with most of the breeders now settled. Heads and any other exposed body parts are becoming bloodied while my neck is rapdily adopting the 'tern defence' posture. Here's some pics what I did with me lens and that:

Roosts are getting tasty.

Especially when they hold stonking treasures like the Black Guillemot

Outside my house is getting rowdy!

Its all about these, peck peck peck!