Friday, 26 April 2013

Rock Hard!

And so it came to be. Breaking news, faces and heads confused. Impulsive reactions driven mainly by adrenalin and un-tangeable urges saw us bombing south for a dream bird. Yes. Call me a dirty twitcher, but I challenge any birder to deny the uncompromising lure and amazement of exotic birds. For the thrill not the list!

Anyway, we bombed south, heavily doubting our chances of making it there in daylight we persevered with the lack of news for the last two hours before arrival producing some severe despair towards the site. BUT. We arrived. It was showing. We breathed a sigh of relief and began to absorb.

Distant. Stonk.

The light wasn't great, especially for the subtle rufous tones this hybrid chat dancing thrush was displaying and after a momentary disappearance a decidedly changed body language flex of an adjacent group saw running, panting and then, mega stonking triple face melting, inner-ear perforating views of this southern spanker. Major blocker, and subtle sublimer.

These photos taken in poor light dont even begin to describe the shear epithelial rotting properties of this bird!

Meanwhile on the Farnes...tune in tomorow! 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Back Passage

The last two days have been blowy. Somewhere between being in the vicinity of a helicopter and sticking your head in a massive speaker. Meaningful passage has therefore kind of dried up, while the westerly flow of wind only accentuates this. However birds are clearly impatient and this climatological hiccup is not deterring them! 

This Rook was one of two battling into the westerly gales. One of which got smashed into the West Cliff by a rogue gust. 

 So the avian diversity has been more of a nationalist selection of Britain's finest, string vests on, looking for a fight1

 Sparrowhawks are becoming slightly more frequent hinting at migration or breeding in the general Farnes vicinity.

A seriously sexy Pipit, often under-rated. Looking at that colour you can see why it's Anthus petrosus.

Classic summer usher. Swallows have been regular but sparse in their appearances so far, surprising considering the strong offshore winds we have been experiencing.

 Evidence of the blow - Gulls playing in the wind over the Wides.
Farnes scarcity times two. These Goldfinch have been capitalising on our feeding station...still waiting for the Hawfinch!! nb. Lindisfarne in the background #arty

Total surprise yesterday afternoon! Red Sword-grass, a really rare moth here, that I found semi-hibernating in the Pele Tower.

Other migrants have been lingering with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler nigh on daily along with Goldcrests and the likes. Obsessive compulsive scanning of Knoxes paid off once again last night when one of them Med Gulls put in an appearance giving the some stonks as it preened away!

Today dawned much as yesterday darkened. Windy! However some sunshine seemed to encourage birds to get diurnal allowing a nice build up of 12 Wheatear, including a corr-blimey long-winged magdaddy Greenland type.

Classic Farnes...Shag and Wheatear.

 The sheltered Cuthberts Cove was a hotspot for frog-hopping Wheatears.

 To Greenland or not to Greenland? That is the question. I think the wings can help...

 Fantastic rusty immature male Black Redstart

Further highlights came in moody shades as the imm male Black Redstart was caught and ringed, posing in the process and i went all ninja on the Black Guillemot, obtaining spanking views!

WHAT a bird!

BUT STILL the breeders tepidly linger around our peripheries, unsure whether its really healthy or safe to breed in these conditions. My gut tells me this season got be a bonanza of food for the few birds that actually breed. But I'm an optimist so reckon they're going all clever on our ass's, bring on the bussling cliffs!

Displaying Oystercatcher...c'mon! Get your breed on!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Repping two time on the blog in as many days...well almost. Not sure what is wrong with me! Or maybe it's because the warmer, unsettled weather has encouraged some birds to venture beyond the Med! 

Summer hits the Farnes...male Wheatear doing his thang.

Yesterdays sunny blustery conditions seemed far from ideal in terms of fall potential but throughout the day birds slowly built up leading to a fantastic summery crescendo of fly-by Sand Martin while watching the years first Willow Warbler just after seeing my first Ring Ouzel and Swallow! Then just to juxtapose the sitch the appearance of Black Guillemot and Glaucous Gull brought a maritime winter effect to proceedings. Great moments. 

Seeing birds like this is part of the Farnes magic...

An interesting coloured bird...just look at those wings!!

Other migrants peppering the islands included 4 Teal, Wigeon, Dunlin, Woodcock, Snipe, 11 Wheatear, 5 Mipit, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 4 Robins, Black Redstart, Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 4 Blackbird, 2 Linnet, Goldfinch and Siskin all visibly being visible which was very nice indeed! While the weather is set to stay mostly unsettled with westerlies hope are high that forecast southerlies bring an overshoot Firecrest or similar spring chicken, and, well it's still early! First major fall last year being 19th April. Bring. It. On!

Crazy Wigeon 'fresh in'

Spot the Glauc! (Hint it's dead centre)..

Crazy combos...Wigeon and Black Guillemot hanging with Eiders

Terrible shot of a ringed blinder! Male Ring Ouzel posing at distance

No prize for geussing why this is a Black Redstart..

More classic Farnes birding with Chiffs feeding in Rockpools... 

Goldcrest - trapped and ringed and looking bonny!

Goldfinch, a real Farnes scarcity, making the most of our limited vegetation!

The storm continues to rage, white water and sea-spray, bins on and into the fray!!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Blacker The Better...

Sorry for the pause. Much like an aged iPod I have become slow, distractible, prone to freezing and making strange noises. All this mounts up to an overall lacklustre blog posting frequency. And lot has happened. Weather, birds, more weather, more birds to infinitum. Some were white. Some were black. All were amazing.

Rapidly becoming my favourate Farnes breeder...Cormorants! Big black buggers! Check their nest-flex. The only things even thinking about breeding at the mo!

First to the weather. The nacker nibbling bite of easterly that was our predominant climatic conditions of late has finally given way to the every-lingering danger of ‘the Atlantic’ effect bringing some extremely appreciated warmth, but also the prospect of very few migrants and with gales blowing harder than something naughty, very few breeding birds also.

However they were here!

Black and white army! Have some Puffins as proof!...

So onto the birds. The birds! Winter birding has continued in synchrony with freezing temperatures. However in spite of this there have been some signs of migration as that desperate frantic push to breed overcomes the gonad shrinking weather.

Several small influxes of late winter/early spring migrants have seen Redwing and Fieldfare remaining along with higher numbers of Blackbird and Song Thrush. While ninja migrants such have Dunnock and Robin have been flicking and bounding in the Farnes non-vegetation. 

Male Blackbird ringed and ready!

Robins eeking out an existence on visitors leftovers...

Robins cotemplating their fate...

More insect eaters such as Wheatear and Chiffchaff have also made landfall allowing small but regular doses of cripple to be absorbed from time to time however I am still lusting for something yellow..or Swallow shaped.

Wheatear are AWESOME. So nice to see these nuggets flopping around.

The first Chiffchaff of the year...latest since 1986 (the year of my birth), watched coming in off the sea whilst stonking our inner-eyes with the years first Wheatear. #magic

Oddities have been regular but low level, mind-blowing all the same though. The Black Guillemot, that clearly prefers the company of Eider and Black-headed Gulls than its own kind (…racist bugger) has been putting on a show, swimming, sitting, flying, calling, fighting etc…basically ticking the ethological boxes big time. While another Blacky, this time a Black Redstart also graced us with its brilliance, or should I say their, as there were two!

The blacker the better! Black Guillemots are truly beautiful seabirds.

The two female Black Redstarts that adorned the rocks and property markers. What beauties and hopefully ushers of spring in the not too distant future..
Finches/Buntings have been bigging themselves up hardcore with nearly all the ‘common ones’ putting a showing in (no Redpoll though boo) with the ‘resident singing Twite going for it and a #superficiallyfemalebutactually2ndcalenderyearmale Brambling and male Reed Buntings bringing some culmen based grip. 

The Twite that has lasted all winter may well have departed today, he will be missed!

Getting arty with Reed Bunting. #combo mate.

Finally one final doses of winter. In white not black this time. Iceland came to the Farnes a week ago with an Iceland Gull seen on Knoxes being white and long in the wing, as they are. Oh and present just along the reef was a Short-eared Owl that exploded from my feet on Inner Farne moments earlier. 


I know I know, I am a pro photographer.

Short-eared Owl and associated Larus getting their mob on!

 Finally there was a canny bit of vismigging, something dear to my heart. Birds moving, migrating and junk. Just awesome. Here's some black birds I saw migrating, and some whites ones too:

Jackdaws passing through. RARE! No Nordics...

Can you spot the migrating Crows? Or are they migrating?

Some whitish blobs...beautiful yelping Common Gulls in V-formation as they passed over...

So what will happen next? Anything.