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The Farne Islands Part 1 Arctic Terns

It's taken me a long time to get round to writing about my trip to the Farnes last year but finally the images are all processed!!! I'm going to break the trip down into a number of blogs as I took so many photographs and there is so much interesting wildlife to talk about.

The Farne Islands are just off the coast of Northumberland in the North of England and are a haven for a multitude of sea birds and seals.

The first thing that hits you after you land on the islands is the fishy odour of bird poo, the second will probably be the beak of an Arctic Tern! These fabulous birds nest as close to the path up from the harbour as possible and like any protective parent will try to scare off anyone who gets too close.

(Photography expert Steve Race picking up some tips from a local)

It really is a case of minding your feet as you walk while keeping your head covered. All along the side of the path are nests with eggs or chicks and parent birds either feeding or pecking visitors heads.

The parent bird will spend a lot of time feeding their chicks as they only ever bring back one fish on each trip. The main food is the sand eel and they will feed themselves and then return with one for the youngsters. They lay between 1 and 3 eggs so will be constantly fishing.

It's hard to believe that when these tiny bundles of fluff fledge and begin to fly that one of their very first trips will be South to winter in the Southern Hemisphere summer close to the Antartic ice! When its parents return to breed again next year they will have covered on average a staggering 40,000 miles the longest migration on the planet. The oldest recorded Arctic Tern was 34 so would have covered in excess of a million miles in its lifetime. Any bird that can do that is welcome to peck my head.

My trip to the Farne Islands was a Xmas present from my wife who booked it with Yorkshire Coast Nature. They organise wildlife tours and photography trips around the Yorkshire coast, dales and moors and I would recommend them to anyone with a passion for wildlife. Steve Race is the photography expert and Richard Baines the resident ecologist and between the two of them they are an endless mine of information, tips and facts. It really is like going away with two old friends and coupled with a group of like minded people makes for a very enjoyable fewdays away from the everyday stresses of work and teenage boys.

You can find their website here Yorkshire Coast Nature and I would highly recommend them if you want to see some of the stunning wildlife in this part of the country.

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