Tuesday, 29 November 2011

EYE-light of the year

I kept my eye on the weather all week and I was hoping and praying for good weather. Everyday I was checking Wind Guru to see what the sea state was going to be like, and after a few days it looked good to go. A quick text message to Alan Hewitt to give the thumbs up, I sat back and never looked again. Never in my wildest dreams was I expecting the weather to be as good as it was on the 20th November. All I was worried about was the sea state and was I going to be able to get landed on Longstone Island, but what we got was more. Calm sea, amazing sunshine and lots of seals. Boy oh boy was I a happy lad.

I don't really tend to worry about things, but I was just praying that it was calm, as Alan had put a lot of effort into organizing the trip and people were coming as far as Leeds, so it had to be good.

We left the harbour just after 9am and steamed straight out to Longstone Island. On arriving we were greeted by lots and lots of seals, and after getting moored up we all went for a wonder around.

Now the Longstone does not have a huge amount of seals compared to the other islands, but that's not a bad thing as the last thing we want to do is to upset the seals during breeding season. The other thing is that the main area were the seals give birth (Northern Hares) is not accessible by foot or boat, as it's cut of by the tide. Other than that this was just a photographers dream, as we had amazing views of the seals, the lighthouse and the Islands.

After the guys all went off to get that dream shot, I grabbed my camera and off I went. The sunlight was just perfect and I'm not the best photographer in the world but with the pro's around me giving me the odd tip I had to get one good picture surely.

Oh boy did I get that picture. So here's the EYE-LIGHT of the year. Well for little old me anyway.

Here is more picture of the guys who joined me on the day. Thanks very much guys. 




Monday, 21 November 2011

Survey Work

On Wednesday and Thursday last week, I was doing some survey work for the Government.
They did a survey a few years ago but they wanted to go back to the same places to see if anything had changed.
It sounds like it was really interesting but after the first few drops with the video camera it becomes a little boring.

Wednesday was not the best day either and with a lot of the target drops on the south side of the islands I was expecting to be thrown about the place. When we got to the north side of the Islands it was a lot better and some of the wildlife on the bottom was stunning. Other places was just seaweed but that was to be expected as we were in shallow water.

Tom pulling in the underwater video camera.

On Thursday it was a lot better weather but the wind was still from the south so I decided to go as far south as possible and work our way north surfing the waves home.

We were at Howick, Craster, Dunstanburgh Castle, Low Newton, Beadnell and then back to Seahouses.
The scenery along our coastline is just beautiful and you tend to forget how beautiful it is until you sit back and take a good look at it.
The drops we did further south were not very good though. It was very silty and dark. This has a lot to do with the weather but also a lot to do with the sand that is dominant down here but the further north we went the better the visibility got and the picturesque it became.
I will find out in a few months time about the results of the work but from what I can gather so far its a big thumbs up.

Craster Village

Dunstanburgh Castle

Low Newton

The rocks outside Seahouses harbour with Bamburgh Castle in the background.

Summer/Winter Wildlife Tour.

It was our 2nd Winter Wildlife Tour today and what a day it was. You would never think it was November with the weather the way it was. The seas were calm and the sun was glistening of the water and with a little breeze coming from the south I knew we were going to be in for a cracking day.

As we passed Bamburgh Castle we had a lovely Razorbill on the bow of the boat and 2 Red-throated Divers fly north past the boat. Just a little further north I spotted 2 Harbour Porpoise braking the surface. I stopped the boat but they never appeared again. Ah well hopefully we will get another chance to see them again.

Just passed Stag Rock we saw 2 Divers, but we were not sure what type as we were a little to far away and the sun was bright. A little further on we saw another 3 Divers but again we were not sure what they were. Eventually we they flew past and they were Red-throated Divers.

Just as we were about to get arrive at Holy Island we saw a lone male Long-tailed Duck resting in the water. I grabbed my camera but it was to late. Next time.
Holy Island is a special place and they have had some good birds up here lately so I was hoping it was our turn. I heard they have had a Eastern Black Redstart over the last few days which is a WOW bird. The only way I would ever get to see that little beauty would be to take a day of work, but that was never going to happen when the weather is like this.
All around Holy Islands sand banks we saw Long-tailed Ducks, Brent Geese, Curlews, Turnstones, Redshanks, Shags, Cormorants, Oystercatchers and Eider Ducks.

I did get a picture of the Long-tailed Ducks and a couple with Holy Island in the background.

After leaving Holy Island we steamed slowly along Ross Sands towards Stag Rock passing about 12 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Northern Divers flying south and 3 Grebes but I'm not sure what kind.

On arriving at the Farne Islands we saw Turnstones, Purple Sandpipers, Seals and a single Merlin hunting above Brownsman Cottage.
I must admit it was a cracking day and the weather was just amazing.

A seal pup waves goodbye at the end of a great trip.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Seal Fight

Even though the seals love playing with divers and they can stroke them, scratch them and cuddle them, they are wild animals and they will attack you. We have over 1000 pups now and they are just so cute but when it gets to this time of the year you get a chance to see some bloody fights.
Bulls are so big and can weigh up to 50 stone and measure up to 10ft in length, so it's not hard to imagine the fights can be gruesome but at the same time you can't take your eyes of the action.


 Both seals exhausted but still alive to tell the tale.

Little Auk

The Little Auk has arrived at the Farne Islands over the last few weeks and number are starting to build slowly. These small seabirds are beautiful but sometimes hard to spot in the waves, but once you get your eye in your sorted. It always helps when you get one resting in the calm water and it does not want to go away as we had today.
I will have to ask the Wardens but I'm sure these little birds are very late this year. If memory severs me right we had lots of them at this time last year, but the only thing is that we have not had any northerly winds so far so this will not help. Never mind at least we have a few around.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Sunny Sunday

I woke to beautiful sunshine on Sunday morning and I could not wait to get out to sea. After leaving the harbour for our first trip we arrived at Scarcar Island to see lots of Shags, Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers. The Purple Sandpipers looked stunning in the sunlight so I had to get a picture.

Some Oystercatchers with Purple Sanpipers in the back ground.

We steamed over to North Whames to see the seals and noticed David Steel and his gang spraying the seals for the counts.

On the last trip of the day we seen a Merlin resting at Longstone Island and as we watched closely it flew up to the top of the lighthouse and then it was accompanied by another Merlin. It was not long before one pushed the other off and it landed on the T.V. Ariel were the accommodation situated.

On the way home the sun was so powerful that I could hardly see where I was going, but I was a lovely ending to this Sunny Sunday.