Thursday, July 26, 2012

Farne Away III

The first time I landed on Inner Farne I was blown away.  I'd seen film of skuas dive-bombing people encroaching on their territory, but to have this happen multiple times as the terns came shrieking in was unexpected.  As you walk up the boardwalk from the jetty you have to focus on your feet to avoid stepping on the chicks wandering off the grass as their parents hover above with food.  That first impression is something like this....

The more bold terns sit on people's hats and shout away.  That's not so bad, the most you have to worry about is some new decoration of your hat .....

But the real problem are the ones that don't land.  Look closely at those bills. 

Sharp.   Very sharp.  At the time it just feels like a hard tap, but this visit, despite my baseball cap Kay counted 15 bleeding punctures on my balding scalp.
The wind direction didn't really work with the light this time, so I struggled to get the shots I really wanted, but a few passable ones were in amongst the near misses.  And how cute are those little ones?

As always you can see bigger versions of these pics by clicking on them or going to my web albums.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Farne Away II

The seals make a nice aperitif, but it's the cliff faces that really whet the appetite, peppered with auk species, kittiwakes and shags.

The beauty of the early all-day trips is that you get the chance to spend time on the 2 islands that allow visitors, welcomed on the first by puffins, the second by arctic terns.  And therein lies one of the problems with occasional visits to the Farnes.  Both these species have the tendency to grab your focus and distract you from the other birds no less deserving of attention.  I've been before.  I knew this.  Yet I still got sucked in, especially by the puffins, but I did try honestly!  I guess the answer is to make a couple of trips in rapid succession so that you finally get overloaded by 'flying puffin/tern with beakfull of sandeel /fish shots'.  Anyway more of puffins and terns later.

I did take some snaps of guillemots (more brown than black, something I hadn't really noted before) including the first pics I have managed of the 'bridled' form (spectacled would seem a better name) complete with punk offspring, and some pics of one in Happy Feet mode.

Razorbills (these are black) are a real favourite with their Desperate Dan chinline and that fabulous eye line.  One appeared to have landed on such a small ledge it couldn't move.

The fact that at the smallest I had a 300mm lens was a bit of a problem with the shags  - they are big and close, but I did like the impact of the green eyes and yellow mouth in the shot below.  And how ugly are those chicks!

I didn't really get a shot I liked of the kittiwakes, this squeezed in view of feeding being about the best.
Next time  - must try harder

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Farne Away I

Other than the couple of days in Newcastle our trip up north was based at Beadnell, and given the two border collies (1 ours, 1 the 'in-laws') the proximity to the lovely beach was much needed.  When it's not for work I can get up fairly early, taking the dogs down for a walk.  Not so good for photography, but given the clouds anyway the light wasn't up to much most of the time, and given the rain the camera didn't get out too much!

I did get to see a few sand martins, to complement the house martins using the house we had rented, the local kestrel, a linnet having a rest on the beach and there was the odd fly-by gull.

Walking the dogs with the others later in the day we came across a wood pigeon making up for the lack of local woods, and a nice patch of northern marsh orchids on the golf course.

But snatching pictures here and there felt short of the mark, knowing that the Farne Islands were just up the road and right a bit.  So when it was clear the weather was going to be sunny mid-week I managed to wangle a pass for the day.

I've been over a few times now, and each time the numbers of visitors go up.  There must have been 50 people heading over on the first 2 boats of the day, and as I can never be bothered getting to the front of a queue I found myself stuck in the middle of the deck. No risk of splashing, but a bugger to try and snap the birds we passed though the heads of those sitting around the edges.

Still I managed to grab few shots, and the seals were easier being raised up that bit more as they gently steamed in the early sunshine.