July 2011 - 3 Days in Northumberland
The weather had been good all week, but was due to turn just on the day I was going to Northumberland. Leaving at 3.30 am to allow 3 full days away, the plan was to focus my visit on the Farne Islands. If the weather was good for the first two days I might change my plan and call at Bempton Cliffs again on the way home. If not I had 3 full days to try and maximise the photographic opportunities of the Farnes.
The Farne Islands are a group of islands off the Northumberland Coast. There are two main islands you can land on, Staple Island and Inner Farne. The best way to visit the Farnes is with a Billy Shiells boat trip. There are other companies that visit the Farnes but Billy Shiells has an all day trip, allowing up to two hours on each of the islands, as well as a tour round the islands by boat. However, as you might expect, landing is subject to the vagaries of the weather. Inner Farne is relatively easy to land on, with a nice jetty giving easy access to and from a boat. Staple Island is slightly more tricky and therefore more weather dependent. Even if the weather is good, a strong swell can maker it dangerous to land.
The forecast for Day 1 (Wednesday) was for dull weather, with some bright spells. I arrived in Seahouses just after 8am and it was immediately clear that we were not going to land on Staple Island that day. The weather was dull and you could see waves crashing on the Farnes from the harbour (2 miles away). I was told to return at lunch time and hopefully we would get on Inner Farne, maybe even for an extended 3 hours. However, the forecast for the following day was not good with a distinct possibility of no trip at all. The weather might pick up by the end of the weekend - aaahhh - I was only there until Friday!
Fortunately, my luck was in! We were able to land on Inner Farne on Day 1, albeit in dull and showery weather, for about two and a half hours. Despite predictions the Farnes would be closed, we actually landed on both islands on Day 2, again in windy and showery weather. And then - wall to wall sunshine on the Friday (whilst much of the rest of the country had rain!). The sun was even out when I put my tent up and took it down - so I can't really complain!
As I effectively went on the same trip 3 days running, my species list was similar on each day. I will therefore present my images by species, starting with a bird that characterises the Farnes, the Puffin.
Puffins - part 1
Puffins are great birds and great characters. The combination of black and white plumage and the brightly coloured bill makes for great photographic potential. They also present a number of opportunities in terms of action.
You can get close to Puffins on both Inner Farne and Staple Island. This first set of shots is taken from the first two days, when the weather was dull and the light quite dim.
Thanks to a protective cover I have for my lens and camera I was able to photograph the Puffins in the rain.
For more Puffin images please click here
And more to come in Part 2