1st Winter Wildlife Tour 2011/12

I watched the forecast with anticipation this week as we had our first Winter Wildlife Tour on Saturday and I was praying for good weather. God must have heard me as the weather was great. We had a little wind from the north but nothing to worry about.

With all the guests on board we left the harbour about 10.30am and slowly steamed north as the wind was in our faces and I knew the second we turned it would feel a lot warmer.

We got past the rocks outside Seahouses and turned towards the beach hoping to see some Divers, but just before Bamburgh Castle we were greeted by 2 Red-necked Grebes resting on the water, and anoother one 2 seconds later, but we could not get close enough for a decent picture. After that there was 12 Whopper Swans flying west towards the land and then about 10 Common Scoters flying south. A little further on we saw 1 Red-throated Diver flying north close to the shore, then 2 minutes later we had 5 more Red-throated Divers took us by surprise by flying in from behind the stern of the boat then veered across to our starboard side. They were really close to the boat and I managed to get a couple of shots but not very good.

A little further on someone shouted that they has seen a Little Auk. Quick as a flash I turned the boat to see if it was still there, and it was. Now this Little Auk was a beauty and did not want to go away. I got a few good pictures and hopefully so did everyone else.

As we were all smiling at seeing this little cracker when I noticed a Puffin and a juvenile Great Northern Diver just a little further out, so of we went again. Yet more little posers.

On arriving at Holy Island we were not disappointed by the variety of birds. We first made our way across to St Cuthberts Island where there were lots of Oystercatchers and a single Curlew hiding in the rocks. On leaving the St Cuthberts Island we went across to Black Law Rock where we greeted by lots of Shags, Cormarants, 2 Red-throated Divers, 1 Grey Heron, 20+ Curlews, Turnstones and lots and lots of Eider Ducks.

    
After leaving Holy Island we steamed slowly along Ross Sands in the hope that would see some Long-tailed Ducks, and we were not disappointed as a single male duck appeared in the distance. We slowly creeped closer but it was not in the mood to let us get very close. Never mind, we did get close enough to get a poor picture. I was very surprised that we did not see very many Long-tailed Ducks, as it was about the same time last year when we did the same trip and we did see a few more and they showed a lot better.

After that we steamed over to The Farne Islands to see all the Grey Seals and their pups. On the way across we saw another Puffin and a Razorbill. I just love these little birds so I have to add a picture.

When we arrived at South Whames to see the all the Seals and pups we also saw a few Turnstones, Redwings and Purple Sandpipers. The rocks are just covered in seal pups at the moment and the weather has been really kind to them, as the numbers have been increasing daily. The last I heard there was over 800 pups and still growing.

It is a magical time of the year around the Farnes as you are never quite sure what you will see. A lot of people think that when the breeding season has finished there is nothing left to see but the Seals, but they are so wrong. You have to keep your eye’s peeled and you will see more than you think.

To finish the trip off we saw a Merlin on Staple Island and a male Peregrine on West Wideopen. I also noticed that the Shags were starting to get their crest of feathers back on their heads again.

The Merlin picture below was taken on Sunday not on Saturday.

After I had tied the boat up and drove home I could not help myself to stop and finish the day of with a lovely sunset picture.

I would like to thank everyone for joining me on our first Winter Wildlife Trip and I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Our next tour is on the 19th November so don’t miss out on this special place.

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