The Farne Islands, Northumberland 2017

I was lucky, on my recent visit, to be on the only boat that managed to land on Inner Farne in about 4 days. The strong north east wind had whipped up the waves making it too choppy for some boats to sail, let alone land. Hats off to Andrew at Serenity boat tours for getting us out there.

I’d intentionally gone earlier in the breeding season as I wanted to photograph a shag with a crest (below). Adults only have the crest at the start of the breeding season and it’s gone by the end of June; which is when I normally visit.

Life on the rocks

The sea may have been lively, but this makes for some interesting shots of the cliff faces, one of my favourite things to photograph on the islands. I know seabirds have evolved to cope with life in these harsh conditions, but it always amazes me how such fragile life can be raised in such an inhospitable environment. The kittiwake nest image below illustrates this well. Incubating an egg on a cold hard rock, only meters above crashing waves, with predators circling above; takes dedication and skill.

Another favourite from the trip was the large group of guillemots on the cliff face. I like the way the rock resembles a stair case in places and shows the busy, crowded nature of breeding season on the islands. Images like this always give me the urge to buy a canvas and paint them, not that I’ve painted anything other than the house since art college. Although more favourable light may have added depth to the image, I actually like it for its flatness.

The Farne Islands were one of the first places I tried wildlife photography and they’ve been a highlight of my photographic calendar ever since. I may not have returned with much on this occasion, but the pilgrimage is always worth it.

I’m currently working on my guide to photographing seabirds on the Farne Islands, so check back soon.

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