Friday, August 06, 2010

Islands and Highlands 3

The trip to Northumberland was mainly about the Farne Islands, but the boats return late afternoon, the sun is up a good few hours before they set off and the Sunday trip was cancelled due to high winds, so we had time to have a look around.
The first evening was about more than looking around. Some advice. If you head up that way at the weekend book accommodation ahead! Saturday evening was spent around Seahouses, Beadnall Bay, Bamburgh and Alnwick searching for somewhere to stay. In the end Kay and the internet were roped in, and we finally sorted out a place in Seahouses - but not a proper B&B, just a kindly soul who sometimes took 'overflow'!
On the Sunday the weather wasn't great. We wandered down to the harbour at Seahouses and spent a few hours trying to snap gannets flying down the coast from Bass Rock, skimming the waves. Not great snaps, and more gannets to come in due course, but you can see how they hugged the sea.
I never got my rock pipit shot, but a pair of quite confiding dunlin were a bonus, especially as the sun came out and lit the seaweed too.
In the evening we headed for the reserve along the beach from Beadnall to see the terns, but never actually got there. First we were hijacked into snapping a few swallows that were using the wind that tracked along the sand dunes to hunt. At times they were held stationary as they flew into the strong winds enabling some unusual opportunities to catch them in flight. Several times they flew by at head height (I was kneeling) just a couple of feet away - never thought I'd miss a swallow in flight shot as it was too close to focus. These were the best of my efforts. Have a look at a larger version on the 'latest pictures' web album HERE
I did manage to snap one tern though. This is a heavy crop, but it still looks small. That's because it's a little tern.
Monday morning saw an early start, and the Seahouses headland brought a Grady, some kittiwakes, fulmars and a meadow pipit lit by the warm sun.
In the harbour the female eider duck had a few ducklings in tow. No males around, but as they were already in eclipse plumage this was no real loss.
Monday evening I was off to Dunbar .............. but that's another post. A few more shots of most of these birds on the web album - just use the link above or to the right.

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