A magical English seabird colony

As an island nation we have some pretty special islands around our shores. One of these islands which has stayed rooted in my memory since my first visit is the Farne Islands. I can still taste the salt water on my lips as the ferry sails across to the Farnes and the unrivaled views of the beautiful Northumberland coast.

Puffins on the National Trust's Farne Islands

Puffins on the National Trust’s Farne Islands

A couple of miles off of the Northumberland coast they have held generations of nature lovers spell-bound. The biggest seabird colony in England and a special place for seals, the Farne Islands is somewhere so rich in nature, with wonderful stories to tell; including memorably an otter that made it across treacherous seas a few years back. An incredible 23 out of the 25 seabirds found around our shoreline can be found on the Farne Islands.

My first encounter with the puffin was on this windswept Farne Islands out in the midst of the North Sea. Seeing them close up remains one of my nature highlights. These comical looking birds that live in burrows in the ground are so charismatic and there are literally thousands here, everywhere you look. And it was great to see the puffin charting at number 10 in the poll to find our national bird.

Another very visible feature of the Farne Islands is the terns – sandwich, common and artic terns. You can’t but see them. If you wander around inner Farne during the summer you’ll be bomb-barded by them, worried about the impact of people walking around the island. It’s a bit like a scene out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. And remember to wear a hat.

this year its 90 years since the National Trust acquired the Farne Islands. Full-time rangers have only been on the Farnes since the 1970s and the pioneering research about seal tagging began on the islands back in the 1950s.

Seeing a seabird colony such as the Farne Islands up, close and personal is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. It’s the sights, sounds and smells that capture the imagination.


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