Staple Island and Inner Farne, off Northern Coast of England – Day 6 – 202214 min read time

It was our final day of the birding workshop and as with every other day, our leader, Denise Ippolito, called the boat company to see the status of our last boat reservations!

She was told that, at that point, both boat trips were on!  So we loaded up and drove into Seahouses and walked to the harbor.   We boarded the morning boat that would once again take us on the 2-hour tour!   I chose to sit at the back of the boat next to a couple of gentlemen.   As we made the “tour” of the Farne Islands, one of the gents asked me if I could understand what the Captain was saying.  I told him only a few words now and then.  He told me he could not understand either and he was English!   We had fun the remainder of the “tour” picking out words we could understand!

As we boated around the islands we did get a close view of a Grey Seal.  We had seen many on our trips but they were usually at quite a distance.

Grey Seal Basking

 

One huge difference on this trip was that the North Sea was more like the North Lake!   After all those days of 6-foot plus waves, this was so weird!  The best part was we would finally get to land on the smaller of the islands that people are allowed on, Staple Island!!

The landing on Staple Island is quite small and kind of attached to the side of a cliff.  The tide must be high enough and the waves low enough to safely disembark.  Once on the landing, there are slippery “steps” that are pretty much straight up with a few jogs and a rope hand railing.

Once on the island, though, I understood why Denise wanted to visit this location.  The birds were so close!  They were close on Inner Farne but here they were very close.  Many of the birds were so close it was difficult to use my 200-500mm lens!  I switched the lens to “full” and did the best I could!

Our first group of puffins on Staple Island!

 

There is a “trail” that takes you across the island, but mostly there are huge rock surfaces, divided by small to large clefts.  Walking on this island is not as easy as on Inner Farne!

Oh! before I walked away from the cliff where we landed, I looked down and saw this huge jellyfish!

Large Pink Jellyfish

 

As I walked around I saw that there was a number of bird species nesting on Staple Island.  Also, there were a lot of chicks!

Guillemot (Common Murre) chick.

 

Shag Family

 

There was an area where there was some dirt and plants so Puffins had their burrows in this area.  The Black Headed Gulls were once again chasing the Puffins as they came back to their burrows with a beak full of sand eels!

Blacked Headed Gull attacking an Atlantic Puffin for its catch!

 

As I walked down some stairs that took me onto the lower part of the island I looked to the left and saw some birds I had never seen before!  There was a couple of Fulmars nesting not far from the stairs.

Fulmars

 

This part of Staple Island was all rocks.  So I carefully walked over to an area that was teaming with birds.  I decided it was time for a panorama so I pulled out the iPhone for that!

Panorama of one side of Staple Island – iPhone 12 Pro Max

 

Over on a cliff across a giant cleft, I saw Kittiwakes nesting!  There were a few chicks!

Kittiwake and Chick

 

From there I walked across a very large expanse of rock where I could see Puffins sitting on a higher rock with the sparkling water behind!

I can not resist a good shot of a lighthouse so I had to grab this view of the Longstone Lighthouse!

Long Lenses can be used for Landscapes! Longstone Lighthouse.

 

I was hoping for some specular highlights which had been almost impossible with the cloudy skies on our previous landings!

A Perfect Spot to Capture Puffins and Specular Highlights!

 

Then I noticed that the rock across the large cleft from the puffins was black!  Another awesome background!

Black Background makes the colors of the puffin just POP!

 

As I walked back toward the boat landing I decided to try for some Puffin close-ups!  This would not be easy with only the 200-500mm lens but I figured I could make it work!   So I found a spot that was out of the traffic and sat down to get more eye-to-eye with the Puffins!

Atlantic Puffin Portrait

 

And then my favorite Puffin shot of the trip happened right in front of me!

My Favorite Puffin Image of the Trip!

 

That was the end of our time on Staple Island.  We loaded back onto the boat and I pulled out the iPhone and made a few seascapes on our way back to the harbor.

Storm Clouds over Bamburgh Castle from the boat on the North Sea. iPhone 12 Pro Max

 

Inner Farne and its lighthouse from the boat.

 

We arrived back in Seahouses and went back to the lodge where we had some lunch and I quickly downloaded my images!  I was thrilled with my images from Staple Island but we still had one more landing on Inner Farne! I had talked to my roommate and I had a few more images I was hoping to make on Inner Farne!

Once again the North Sea was as calm as a lake that afternoon!  We made the obligatory 2-hour tour around the islands.  This time we did see a new bird!  It was a Cormorant!  They are much larger than the Shags that were nesting on Staple Island and Inner Farne!

Cormorant on an outlying island.

 

We landed on Inner Farne and I had a couple of goals, a head-on shot of a Puffin with sand eels, a Puffin in “heaven” shot, and more chicks!

The pecking Arctic Terns greeted us as usual but I was able to get some chick images.

Arctic Tern Chick

 

I took the walkway through the center of the island and turned left at the T.  There is a cliff at the end where I was told there were some chicks!

I saw a couple of Kittiwake chicks.

Kittiwake Chicks

 

And then with some searching, I finally found a Razorbill chick!

Razorbill and chick.

 

My Puffin in “heaven” shot was next.  There are some rocks that are so covered with guano that they are white.  If a Puffin is sitting there and you have the right light it looks like the puffin is sitting on a cloud, thus “heaven”.

Puffin in “Heaven” (on a rock that looks like a cloud)

 

From there, I moved to a spot where the Puffins were flying in head-on with sand eels and dropping into their burrows!

I saw one coming at me as I looked in that direction.  I quickly brought the camera up and shot a series of images!  Even though I tried this many times, these were the only shots that were in focus!  Sometimes thinking too much about the shot does not work…this was an example of just doing it and it works!

Atlantic Puffin with the landing gear down and it approaches its burrow with a mouthful of sand eels.

 

Puffin as it slows down and turns towards its burrow.

 

We only had a few minutes left of our last hour on Inner Farne so I quickly walked around to the other side of the island to once again search the puffin burrows for a chick.

I stopped in an area where there were a lot of burrows and where puffins were coming in with sand eels to feed their chicks.  One of the other members of our group was nearby so I walked over to ask what she had seen that day.   As we talked, as always, I continued to look back and forth.  Suddenly, I saw a bird I did not recognize!  I looked again and realized it was in a burrow and knew I had just seen a puffin chick or puffling!   I quickly brought up my camera and started shooting as well as telling my friend what I had seen and where so she could get some images.  I looked around to see if any more of our group was nearby but alas! they were not!  The two of us were the only ones to see the puffling!

Adult Puffin and Puffling!

 

Puffling and Adult. They do not look like a Puffin!

 

My trip had been made by that sighting and those images!  But before I got back on the boat I captured a couple more images!

Oystercatcher on the shore

 

I was surprised to see Ruddy Turnstones here!

 

We boarded the boat and went back to Seahouses for our last dinner with the group!

This was a trip to remember especially since it was supposed to happen in 2020!   I am so glad I decided to stick with the reservation and make the trip 2 years later!

I highly recommend the northern English coast for birding from May to July!  The countryside is beautiful and there are always castles and old villages! 

Please read all six days of my English birding adventure!  (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5)

Click on any image to see a larger version OR visit my galleries to see and purchase prints and other items with these and many additional images: Gallery Links –  Inner Farne Islands

My next adventure will be a lot closer to home!  New Smyrna Beach, Florida!

That is all for now!

Lynn

 

 

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