Friday, 15 June 2018

Farne Islands - again!

My seven readers will be saying "Not again!". Another visit to the Farne Islands and yet again a day when the sun failed to shine. The previous day had been bright sunshine, albeit Storm Harold was lashing the sea at around force ten on the Beaufort Scale. Today was much calmer and, in the end, we were lucky to get out of harbour.

Photographing black and white birds in poor light always leads to problems but on the Farnes there is always something to photograph and you end up with something that is usable.

Arriving at Staple Island we were greeted by the Puffin welcoming committee, posing obligingly.

Everyone wants flight shots but with the prevailing light it was always going to be difficult.

Life isn't easy for the Puffins - parasites abound. The Puffin spends an awful long time out at sea catching sand eels for the chicks, the gulls just hang around waiting to pounce as the birds come into their rabbit hole nests. Some get through, others lose all their catch and have to do it all again. This one made it with half a beak full.

Safe - for now.

There are thousands of other seabirds on the island - it's just that I could sit and watch Puffins for hours.

Thousands of seabirds give the atmosphere a pungent aroma of fish.

Guillemots give you a quizzical look 

The "bridled" form




Only the top predator on the island can afford to leave its young and eggs only half guarded.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Not long before it is swallowing tern chicks whole!

Then a short boat ride over to Inner Farne to catch up with some very obliging Arctic Terns

How can such a demure looking bird turn into a ferocious pecking and pooing nightmare - 'cos you are a tad close.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Staying local

After seven days of chasing butterflies up and down the French Pyrenees it was a pleasant change to catch up with some local ticks. First up were the Bee Orchids on Cissbury Ring, Dawn and Jim had posted a tweet giving the heads up so I set off just after the morning rush. Post my Pyrenean adventures, my knees were protesting loudly so I climbed the not so steep westerly access very slowly. It was a good job that no one was present to witness my extremely slow descent.

I found the orchids exactly as described by D and J and set about recording them.

One bonus was that this year there is a bumper crop of Wild Strawberry, Fragaria Vesca, should have taken a pot of cream up with me.

I had a reserve venue further west where I had located Bees before so set off to find them. Unfortunately not a single one, but I did find Southern Marsh Orchid, Common Spotted Orchids and a Pyramidal just poking its very tight buds above the sward.

This site normally produces 1000+ specimens of 3 species of orchid and is protected by West Sussex County Council "Notable Verge" signs. Sadly these are now in need of repair or replacement and I guess, with tight budgets, these are not a high priority. I just hope that no enthusiastic contractor drives a mower through such a vulnerable habitat.

Next up was a tick that I had dipped previously. Martin and I had found Common Clubtails on the Thames last year and whilst I was on holiday Martin had connected with them on the Sussex Rother at Fittleworth. I wasn't too optimistic as there was considerable cloud cover and as I wandered downstream of the bridge even the Banded Demoiselles were reluctant to fly. However, the sun emerged just for a few minutes and two CCs were on the wing. At last one perched on a reed some way off and I just managed to get a record.

It could have stayed a bit longer

Nice to be back on the patch, just got to find one of those Sussex Wood Whites.