Places to see birds

Fabulous Farne - GO THERE!

Fabulous Farne - GO THERE!
Puffin on Farne - L Bimson

To 'us' birders, the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, is "seabird city", "birding heaven", or "the Galapagos of the north" - which may give you some idea of the sheer spectacle of seabirds found here.
This could be one of your most memorable birding experiences in Britain.

The Farne Islands lays a couple of miles off the Northumberland coast of north-east England. Staple Island and Inner Farne, both looked after by the National Trust, can be visited by boat, and offer close viewing of breeding puffins, shags, guillemot, razorbills, sandwich, common, arctic and roseate terns, and a variety of gulls including kittiwakes and the great black-backed.

Nothing quite prepares you for the sheer assault on your senses as soon as you step off the ferry on Inner Farne. Sight, hearing and smell are the first to be triggered, as Arctic terns line up along the path up from the quay, watchful, ready to strike. believe me don't dare step off the boat without a hat - As you walk up to the top you run the risk of a fourth sense - touch - ouch!, as the terns jealously guard their young by dipping down striking you on the head or leaving something foul behind!

As you meander along the paths you can not help be amazed, emotional, heart warmed - so close a photographers dream. Here the path offers extreme close up views of breeding Puffins, shags, guillemot, razorbills, sandwich, common, arctic and roseate terns, kittiwakes, eider duck and oystercatcher. The chance to observe behaviour, the tender care of their young, unbelievable cliff edge nest sites, intricacies and hue of plumage not noted before. Wow!

Guano covered or not you'll go home on a high.

The Farnes are home to one of the biggest grey seal colonies in the British Isles. A protected species, you can see the huge bulls, mottled cows and brownish pups peeking out of the water or huddling together lazily on rocks, specially at low water when more of the islands are exposed. There are an estimated 3 to 4 thousand Seals at the Farne Islands with over a thousand Seal pups born each autumn.

Seahouses is a small holiday resort with a harbour - this is where the boat trips to the vast seabird colonies on the Farnes Islands are based. The harbour itself is worth checking for rare gulls at any time of year, especially so in winter, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls are reasonably regular. However be aware of the more regular gull residents, and their fondness for stealing your fish and chip supper.
The Eiders in the harbour can be very tame and will home in on anyone coming down to the waters edge with food.

Billy Shiel's fleet of boats, 'the Glad Tidings 'leave for the Farnes from Seahouses April to October.

Note: A separate admission fee is payable for each island - tickets are bought from a National Trust warden on landing on each island. Boat fees do not include island admission.

And while you're in the area, why not visit Lindisfarne and Budle Bay internationally renowned for wildfowl during the winter months, the tidal mudflats and salt marshes draw in Pale bellied Brent geese, Greylag, Long-tailed duck, Knot, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshanks, Widgeon, Teal, Oystercatcher, Mallard and Shelduck can be found.
And the area around Bamburgh Castle, Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Linnets, Meadow pipits, Stonechat, Wheatear, Lapwing, Sedge & Grasshopper warblers and numerous other tits, thrushes and finches around the dunes and golf course.