Thursday, 28 April 2011

Unfair weather!

So the sunny settled and sometimes hot conditions continue here on planet farne allowing the awesome migrant action to pass right over our heads! Migrant birds tady consisted of the same birds in different, or should I say the same places! While summery weather has brought some of our breeders closer to climax.

And when I say breeders, I mean the kits, or Kittiwakes. Today the first eggs were discovered meaning that bar the odd tern/wader species we have a full compliment of occupied nests! Now lets have some rain and a fall.

With migrants birds on the back-burner butterflies once again dominated in the form a 2 Red Admiral and 4 Small Tortoiseshell and surely another species any day now?!?

Besides hardcore birding our life as wardens is begining to hot up with our monitoring plots currently being established giving us an oppurtunity to see how our birds are doing, here's hoping for more calm weather and high productivity!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Late yesterday saw the arrival of our first chicks at this monster seabird colony. The species? Mallard. Yes that’s right our dear old dabblers from the local pond breed in reasonable numbers (I’ve found at least 10 nests – however most are abandoned or predated) on Inner Farne where I’m based.

Today the wind again had a chilly northish feel to it which was compensated by the searing April sunsbine – rendering me sunstrokafied! Chatting to people about the Farnes in the sun takes its toll!

Wardens enjoying gripping views of Eider

Birdwise the clear conditions meant migrants were once again fairly sparse on the ground with not much moving apart from the arrival of 2 pars of Swallows which are always awesome to watch. Hopefully one or  both of these will find the chapel to their liking and stay.

Unlike the migrant birds, our butterflies (perhaps migrants themselves) benefitted from the unseasonable heat with a single Red Admiral still hanging around along with 3 Small Tortoiseshell.

Tomorrow the awesome camera of my dreams is being purchased so I’ll be uploading ‘crippling’ pictures of all the common, scarce…and, of course, the rares!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Back in the game

The glories of island life and it’s innocence in the face of modernity often lead to things like internet inconsistencies and the like. However this is no more! I have internet which means I can spray my pictures all over your computer screen.

But before the picfest of seabirds in the mist, I will update some recent sightings.

The undoubted personal highlight of recent days is twofold and interlinked: Firstly the lifting of the oppressive fog – allowing us to see! And secondly the ability to see meant that on April 22 the first Little Terns (13) roosted and crippled the attendees. Since then they have been regular roosters with 23 the highest count logged.

Beside Little Terns the other Breeding tern species have been doing allsorts of awesome things like displaying and postulating while first eggs of various species are being laid all the while and territorial disputes are ongoing:

Hybird nest - 11 Mallard eggs (there were 12) and 2 Eider eggs. With females of both species incubating the little slaaaags.

I watched the top Shag turn around, shit on the lower one and sit appreciating it's work

The beautiful sunshine of recent days has meant grounded migrants have been restricted to Chiffchaff and Wheatear with a random Sparrowhawk and some Common Scoter thrown into the mix.

As wardens our work is beginning to build as both breeding and tourism seasons progress so we are currently juggling visitor work with some habitat management to provide optimal conditions for our terns etc.

Eiders aren't fussy though!

Work aside the warden team have recently played the Seahouses boatman losing ahem 5 – 4 due to some unique defending on our part. However the next match is next week and feel positive about the upcoming fixture – perhaps an eastern rare will put some fire in our bellies? With winds turning ‘deep’ easterlies going mad strong later this week, it’s all to play for.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Guille's in the mist

Well my internet dongle has run out of credit rendering any net based foraging trips as more scavenging seshs on others laptops!

The weather here has continued in the foggy vain for 5 days now, although today the fog rolled out and we got to stretch our eyes! easily the busiest day visitorwise meant not a huge amount of birding, other than the regular rounds have been done, still Eiders nesting all around and the cacophony of displaying terns means our  days are filled with crippling spectacles!

Bird migration is ongoing with Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Wheatear all passing through along with Swallows and so on. The obvious push of southern species hasnt reached us yet although the promise of easterlies over the next few days could well bring some of the later northerly migrants across our way! 

Breeding birds have been well and truly shagging in on and around the Farnes with all breeders present and correct along with the copulating, egg laying and poohing that comes with it.

Insects are also on the up with the first Red Admiral flying in off today while 16 Agonopterix alstromeriana werre notable. Other things include Bombus terrestis and stuff like Small T's etc. The obvious increase in migrants insects (including 3 Vagrant Emperors at Denge marsh!) and many moths so our trap is primed!

Anyway I'm on mates laptop so no pics today however I will sooooooon bye.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Farnes life (and weather) took a not all unexpected turn today with an extremely busy day for visitors dawning to think fog but soon clearing to glorious sunshine.
These sorts of conditions are brilliant for migrants who become grounded not realising the mainland is only 1.5 miles away! They will travel north and hit low visibility and become disorientated and therefore seeking the nearest land. Things like low cloud or rain etc produce the same effect.

Today’s promising conditions didn’t however come to fruition with 7 Wheatear and drake Shoveler south the passage highlights – perhaps the fog was too thick! The very high tides saw 2 Grey Plover, 1 Dunlin and 1 Knot turn up in wader roosts while it was the gull roost that hit gold. A 1st summer Med Gull was located along with a couple of Arctic Terns topped off another awesome day.

Other recent bits include a steady trickle of Wheatear plus some hirundine love. While the breeders continue to settle and number of Eider nests are on the up.

Mothwise a Flame Carpet by day (a Carpet sp. Was seen the eve before – maybe this species) was new for the year and I’m unsure of it’s status but seems early for ‘up north’?

So much change is happening right now everyday has something new so I’ll see you when it happens!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Wading through waders

The exceptionally high tides today meant my day was spent lounging in the sun counting the various roosts on Knoxes. The beautiful weather was made even better by a lovely little array of waders in varying plumages. The totals are Black-tailed Godwit 1 (sum. plum. ish), Bar-tailed Godwit 20, Grey Plover 21, Knot 48, Dunlin 1, Purple Sand 11 and Turnstone 9.

With calm, clear conditoons persisting there wasn’t many land bound migrants today however a singing Willow Warbler and White Wag were pretty awesome.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Playing away

Another sunny day dawned across fairyland to the reprise of zero birds! On the morning rounds all of Inner Farne’s Willow Warbler had departed along with many others it seemed.
But just when you though it was quiet a female Wheatear and cracking Tree Pipit appeared feeding next to eachother!

The rest of today has been spend offsite at Low-Newton where singing Grasshopper, Sedge and Willow Warbler as well as Blackcap and Chiffchaff were had whilst working. Other birds in the area included more springy stuff like overhead House Martin, Linnet and Swallow passage.

Other than birds this area seems brilliant for plants (although I couldn’t tell you what they all were!) as well as Amphibs such as this Great Crested Newt we found (and didn’t disturb/touch) during our gardening.

Beside that beast I had Water Carpet which are always nice to see.

With the winds looking pretty favourable over the next few days ‘anything can happen’ as Bambi would say.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The fall after the day before

Scoter's off Stag Rock (ish) still fresh in my mind

Today dawned rare with the excitement of drake Black Scoter burnt into my retinas I was still on a high while doing the morning rounds. A flick under the solar panels turned into my first Willow Warbler of 2011 with another 8 seen on Inner Farne today.

This mini-fall inspired us to hit Longstone and Brownsman tallying 3 and 13 Willow’s respectively with 3 Wheatear and White Wag spread across the Farnes. These birds, all feeding in minimal cover created an awesome spectacle that perfectly capped off 2 brilliant birding days.

Tonight the stillish cloudy conditions continue so the moth trap is out to pull in whatever’s out there so see you tomorrow.

But until then have some Puffin love taken ealrier this evening.

Visual migration was also apparent with 9 Sand Martin W/NW, Redpoll W, 3 Linnet W while 37 probable Pinkfeet flew north distantly.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Orange knob on a black cock!

Farnes life is as beautiful and busy as always has meant I’ve been unable to update but today’s is a bumper instalment!

The weather has switched and flip reversed in, on and around the UK bringing birds to the south that have yet to reach us in the north. However today’s Black Scoter off Stag Rock (I place I remember seeing many seaducks in the past) brought the north right back in the mix!

Initially unconfirmed and distant, it wasn’t til after work we received the news that it was showing well close inshore. This prompted a twitch farnes style! Into the Zodiac and crammed into the car we emerged to this awesome sight!

Click to enlarge for more detail in this crappy record shot!

Drake (or cock!) Black Scoter - Stag Rocks - EPIC

Happy wardens

Beautiful place for a twitch

We soon moved down to the beach and watched the bird feed, display and chase other Scoter barely a hundred yards away!

Back on the Farnes migration continues, albeit at a slower pace with the odd Phylosc and Hirundine as well as some wader movement (including 13 Sanderling, 37 Knot and 45 Purple Sands today) along with building numbers of breeders.

Awesome Eider

Black-head staking it's claim to a patch of wall!

Brownsman Brambling being all rare and uber nice

Will get more posts up and shiz so watch this space..

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Stealth Toaster

As the title insinuates the past couple of day’s bright sun have resulted in an April sun burn – not a bad feat, and is symptomatic of the brilliant weather that has graced the Farnes of late.

The visitors continue to arrive and enjoy the ever increasing numbers of seabirds with Razorbills chilling in the sun and Kittiwakes crippling everyone with awesome updraft acrobatics at Lighthouse Cliffs.

The past few days have seen more Swallows, Sand Martins, Finches and Pipits passing overhead. However conditions enhanced movement and therefore didn’t ground many migrants bar the odd Wheatear.

Waders were represented with a Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Purple Sand and Sandwich Terns are on the up, nearly 200 in tonight’s roost!

The warm weather also allowed many iverst to become active with Small White and Tortoiseshell both becoming very obvious along with 2 Bumblebee species. While the larva saga 2001 contnues with this prob Common? Rustic larva found on the boardwalk and my previous ID of Ghost Moth larvae being revised to Dark Arches (they look very similar!).

In other news everything was getting (eye)balls deep in some ornithological erotica as Kittiwake, Razorbill, Guillemot, Puffin and Black-headed Gull were all at it like dirty animals – to the joy of onlookers!

Oh they look so innocent

Lastly, today saw the team split into Brownsman and Inner Farne bases so here’s hoped that improved coverage out east will bring some undiscovered goodies while Inner Farne is primed for rares as always! But until then here’s some awesome Farne related pictoral stuff..

The Pele Tower, completed in 1500 it's my home for the next few months!

Black-headed Gulls back in their colony on Inner Farne

And sunset styles at different times in different places...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Rough and ready

Well the past few days have been a continuation of windy but warm (and generally sunny) conditions that has undoubtedly aided some of the rares that are currently turning up.

The Farnes has been no exception with more migrants turning up (although the rare is yet to appear) including some cracking birds.

The day after my last post (Sunday ish) involved a dash to Brownsman in search of Tree Sparrow and Black Redstart. The male ‘Black Red’ showed brilliantly accompanied by a male Blackcap grovelling on the boardwalk and Goldcrest on the cottage roof – just insane! But alas the sparrow did not materialise, however this didn’t dampen our moods with another beautiful sunset over these incredible islands.

Brownsman seabirds - Guillemot, Puffin, Fulmar

On Inner Farne 8 Canada Geese, 2 Greylag Geese, 7 Wheatear and 3 Jackdaw were the more notable species.

Monday dawned sunny and ended hot with an Osprey (2nd in 3 days) drifting low over Knoxes in the early evening sun. The first Inner Farne Chiff was singing away while 2 Wheatear kept up the migrant theme.

Today has been very sunny, in fact blazingly beautiful and has brought a more diverse range of springy stuff for our delectation.
A Red Chestnut was trapped in the blustery conditions overnight, while Red-tailed Bumblebee, Small Tortoiseshell (6+) and Peacock (2N) represented the inverts.

Birdwise the Chiff total increased to 2 and the my first Common Tern drifted over the kettle this eve.