The Farne Islands – 100s of Arctic Tern on Inner Farne Island

At 1250 the MV ‘Glad Tidings IV’ came back alongside and picked up its 74 passengers from Staple Island that is only open to the public in the morning.  We were then taken to Inner Farne (separate £15.00 family ticket landing fee), via a tour of the other nearby islands, where we had two and a quarter hours ashore.  As we approached the pier at Inner Farne the boat was surrounded by Arctic Terns that were dip feeding on the surface of the sea.  It was a species that I only saw offshore or overhead from Staple Island, but on Inner Farne there were hundreds of breeding pairs.  Moving about on Inner Farne was a completely different experience to that on Staple Island due to the aggressive behaviour of the resident Arctic Terns in defence of their nests.  When you walked along the boardwalk and approached any breeding Arctic Terns they would take to the wing and fly around your head pecking at you and even poohing on you.  However, I had gone well prepared with my Tilley hat (that had been replaced free of charge after wearing out my first one).  Although it was evident that some of the visitors were not at all happy with the antics of the Arctic Terns, despite all the warnings before getting landed, I loved it and it reminded me of my time amongst the thousands of Sooty Tern on Ascension Island back in Mar 11.

Arctic Tern, Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10 IS

Arctic Tern, Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10IS

Arctic Tern eggs (double clutch), Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10IS

Arctic Tern, Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10IS

Fortunately there is a toilet on Inner Farne.  However, the grassy courtyard area between St Cuthbert’s Chapel and the adjacent buildings, protected from the elements by the outer stone wall, is prime Arctic Tern real estate.  Consequently, you have to negotiate the gauntlet of pecking beaks in order to relieve yourself.  Within the courtyard each nest site is marked with a red or white stone presumably to enable breeding success rates to be determined by the wardens.

St Cuthbert's Chapel and out buildings, Inner Farne - 3 Jun 12

Arctic Tern, Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10IS

St Cuthbert's Chapel, Inner Farne - 3 Jun 12

Inner Farne also held breeding Sandwich Tern and Common Tern as well as a similar number of breeding pairs of Puffin to Staple Island.  Although I kept a keen eye out for Roseate Tern I didn’t spot any.

Sandwich Tern, Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10IS

Common Tern, Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10IS

(Atlantic) Puffin, Farne Islands - 3 Jun 12 - Canon SX10IS

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

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