Tuesday, 30 May 2017


I had a great family holiday in Northumberland. We stayed in a cottage just over a mile north of Belford and about four miles from the coast. Very peaceful, good company, lots of walking, a few beers and we even managed to squeeze in a bit of bird watching. In fact the whole family volunteered to do the Billy Shields all day birding trip to Inner Farne and Staple Island with me.

I am not sure that is exactly what I had in mind but I am glad they came. They all seemed to enjoy the experience, including being attacked by the Arctic Terns. Although my two sons were probably not so enthusiastic about a well aimed deposit from one of the gulls that just missed me but gave both of them a traditional welcome to the islands.

Staple Island was the first stop and fortunately I had been warned not to take the big lens. A 200mm or better still a 100-300 zoom is probably ideal. I felt sorry for the guy that had lugged his 800mm up the steps from the boat. It would have been almost impossible to get far enough away from any of the birds to get a picture.

Puffins and Shags were the main reason for visiting Staple Island. I have seen lots before but I have never been this close to them.

It was nice to get the picture opportunities but it was also a bit disconcerting. There was no need for any field craft or any need to take care to avoid disturbing the birds other than by not stepping on their nests. I am sure people got pictures as good as or better than mine just by walking up and pointing their mobile phones at them.

You should have seen the one that got away

 My initial thoughts were, are we disturbing the birds and should we be here at all. Then you see a Shag on a nest with a couple of chicks (Shaglets?) and a group of young children sitting round the nest within touching distance. The bird does not seem to be concerned. It may well have nested in that spot before and knows that it is not at risk and in fact is probably safer from predators by being choosing to be close to people.

Plenty of opportunity for Puffins in flight but perhaps not enough light to be able to freeze the action.

Shags, probably the least concerned of all the birds by the presence of people.

I was really there to photograph the Puffins and Shags but there were a good selection of other birds on offer. I was quite suprised to find that I only came away with a single picture of a Guillimot. Perhaps I should have spent longer concentrating on them.





In the afternoon we moved on to Inner Farne, seeing a similar selection of birds plus the Terns.


  1. Hi martin
    Regularly read yours and Dave's blog. It seems we were both in the same area at about the same time as you can see from my blog. All the best http://awayfromfourmarks.blogspot.co.uk/

  2. Hi Chris
    I see we were also at Fairburn Ings on the same day. I have the young Tree Sparrows on the same branch. Nice Blogs.