Farne Islands- Northumberland. A group of low lying islands approx. 3 miles off coast Northumberland. 28 islands at low water, 16 islands at high water.
Grey Atlantic seal pups born in November each year. Gain up to two lb. a day in weight. After only 6 to 8 weeks parents leave the pups to fend for themselves. Estimated 3000 to 4000 Grey Seals on Farne. Guillemots 40,000 pairs on Staple Island alone. Single pear shaped egg, onto the bare rock. No nest made. Razorbills darker in colour then Guillemot, distinctive white strip along beak. Both species are early breeders and typically fledge by the end of June.
Farne Islands- Oh so photogenic Atlantic Puffins, 50,000 pairs, nest in burrows excavated in the peaty soil, single whitish egg. Eider duck up to 500 pairs living off crab and shellfish, a nest lined with down up to 10 eggs, the earliest breeders, chicks often leaving the Island in early June.
Longstone Light built 1825 to 1826, since 1980 automatic. The lighthouse is 4 nautical miles from harbour, flashing once every 20 sec. day and night.
Scene of one most famous rescues by the heroine Grace Darling. The Forfashire a luxury paddle steamer, bound for Dundee, boilers blew up. After drifting south in rough seas for 20 miles, the vessel broke her back on the Harker Road. Grace and her father rescued a total of 9 people, 5 first then another 4, sadly other 43 perished. Grace Darling died at the early age of 22 from tuberculosis on the 7th Sept 1838. Buried St Aidans Churchyard, Bamburgh. Why not visit the Grace Darling Museum in the village?
Heading back towards landfall you may pass Brownsman Island. No public landing, purely for the birds- apart from the national Trust wardens. Inner Farne with its Peel Tower and St Cuthberts Chapel. St Cuthbert moved to Inner Farne in 676, becoming bishop of Lindisfarne in 685 on request of King Eyfrid. Inner Farne Eiderduck up to 500 pairs, and a early breeder, Lay up to 10 eggs. By mid/late June most of the ducklings guarded in crèches will be heading for the Mainland across the open sea, as soon as hatched. Kittiwake, nest of seaweed and grass, clinging to the cliffs. Wheeling flight of couples or groups. Sea campion-white flowers. Four species of tern- common, arctic, sandwich and a few roseate Puffins nest just beyond arms reach, numbers peaking with last years juveniles in mid July,- most puffins leave the Islands by the end of the month.
Landing trips during the seabird breeding season to both Staple and Inner Farne run from May to July, though trips to see the Grey Seals run into the autumn. In April, August and September landing only possible on Inner Farne. Any landing is purely at skippers discretion and is weather dependent. Trips may be curtailed or cancelled altogether in rough weather at short notice.
Watching wildlife, particularly in remote offshore locations does have its hazards, both in reaching the location, and then exploring it. You must take great care at all times. Cliffs are dangerous. Keep away from the edge and from sudden drops. Landing from and onto boats can be dangerous even in the hands of skilled careful skippers and crew. Wet grass, gangways and boardwalks can be slippery, paths may be loose, and unlikely to be maintained if made up at all. Wearing sensible clothing and footwear is advisable. Do not approach wildlife close up. Keep away from any livestock, which may be feral and not used to human presence. You visit such locations and watch wildlife solely at your risk and discretion. Take care and have an enjoyable time.
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