Sunday, 19 April 2015

It's Been a While

A busy start to the new season on the Farnes has meant little time for blogging, but now we are settled in and well into the swing of things. It's been a funny old start, with a mixture of very late arrivals and very early ones. The season started with a bang, as our first day on the islands produced a Stonechat. After a severe winter in 2010, this species suffered a population crash; something they are known to be susceptible to. This resulted in a once annual bird becoming a scarcity, our record in March being the first since October 2013. All we can hope is that this is a sign of a population recovery for these lovely little birds.

Stonechat on Inner Farne

The following day we were treated to great views of a Red-necked Grebe, another bird that is often tricky to come by on the Farnes. It spent a good 15 minutes in the Kettle around the jetty before drifting south. After this, things rather slowed down. We had to wait until the 10th April, a full 12 days later than last year, for our first Wheatear of the year. This was swiftly followed by our first Chiffchaff (21 days later than last year), Willow Warbler, Swallow, Blackcap and Brambling as the islands were graced with some wonderful weather. An unexpected arrival during this spell was a single Little Tern seen to go to roost on Knoxes Reef. This represents the earliest ever record for the Farnes, beating the previous one by a full 8 days!

During the quiet spell, our attention was held by this pair of Mediterranean Gulls which were displaying and settling on Central Meadow in the Black-headed Gull colony. This would represent a first breeding record for the islands should they decide to stick around.

Courting Mediterranean Gulls. Possibly a Farnes first.

Inner Farne lighthouse in glorious sun

Wheatear on the beach!

This about covers the migrant side of goings on on the islands, apart from a bit of excitement on the gull front. A 1st winter Glaucous Gull was discovered off the North Rocks of Inner Farne on the 15th. This was a good record after a blank year last year, and things got even better when the following evening a 3cy bird was discovered in the roost on Knoxes Reef. Then to our amazement, the 2cy bird returned on the 17th and showed beautifully on Ladies Path from the living room window. Marvellous stuff!

Guillemot... "What a lovely Gull!" Glaucous Gull.... "What a lovely pair of Guillemot!"

That wraps up the latest migrant news from the islands as I sit in the living room window with glorious sun beaming through. On a final note, we were treated to spectacular aurora display on Thursday night, and I snapped this photo of the Pele tower nicely backlit.

Aurora on the Farnes

Next up (in a few days hopefully), the breeders!!

Cuthbert's Gut is filling up.....

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