We couldn’t have picked a better day to start our first season of Winter Bird & Seal tours around the Farnes and Holy Island, bright sunshine, calm seas and big Northumberland skies made for a great backdrop to the day and the wildlife didn’t disappoint either.
Using Serenity II our purpose built catamaran we headed straight north to Holy Island to catch the tide. Keith our on-board wildlife guide picking out small numbers of Long-tailed Duck including some stunning males as we went.
As we reached the end of Ross Back Sands with the tide dropping we were able to manoeuvre in close to many of the roosting wader flocks on the sandbars and islands at the entrance to the National Nature Reserve. Oystercatcher,Redshank, a good size flock of Bar-tailed Godwit all put on a great display. A single Knot was picked out amongst the crowd and a Red-throated Diver in the vestiges of summer plumage entertained passengers off the starboard.
With the tide dropping we moved back south close to the beach, benefiting from the access afforded by a catamaran. A small flock of Common Scoter dived in the waves and we soon picked out five Slavonian Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe amongst the breakers. We added another five Slavonian Grebes as we moved back opposite Budle Bay, as well as double figures of Long-tailed Duck.
The second part of our four hour tour took us out to the Farnes, an altogether different place in winter. As we moved through Staple Sound we found small numbers of Little Auk, the smallest of our auks and a regular winter visitor. With the weather changed a few days later over 1700 were counted passing by the Farnes Wardens.
After some close in views of adult and pup Grey Seals and two encounters with two different Peregrines it was time to head back to shore after a great first trip. A fantastic start to the winter season and we’re all looking forward to see what the weeks ahead will bring.