Arctic Angels

Summer at The Farnes means terns and it’s the Arctic Tern that has the biggest numbers and dominates many of the islands including Inner Farne. Arctic Terns are birds of contrast, elegant, graceful almost angelic in appearance, apparently floating across a blue sky. Then they open their mouths and that harsh kree eeer call rasps from the red throat.

After sailing out with Andrew in perfect conditions last Friday I spent a couple of hours on Inner Farne photographing Arctic Terns, being assaulted by Arctic Terns both physically and aurally and finally becoming a perch for one confiding individual who sat on my baseball cap for the best part of three minutes.

To be this close to a creature that spends almost its whole life far from land in the vast oceans of the world is a privilege. I’ve found over the years if you sit, even inside a territory, after a minute or so they seem to realise you aren’t a threat. Running through those few metres of boardwalk with hood pulled down as many do, misses the rare opportunity to appreciate just how gorgeous these terns are; the blood red bill, jet black cap and tail streamers to die for, I just can’t get enough of them and any visit during late May and June should be savoured.


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