Safari Cal

Seabird Get Together - Northumberland, UK - Spring 2014

131 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

I was planning my trips out to the Farne Islands for next year and wondered if any other ST'ers might like to have a mini, or maxi, ST GTG in Northumberland.

 

The Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast are a world class breeding ground for tens of thousands of seabirds. There are so many opportunities to study the behaviour of the birds and to get close to them for those killer photographs you see in all the magazines. More details are available by clicking on these links:

 

http://www.farne-islands.com

 

http://thefarneislands.blogspot.co.uk

 

I don't mind pulling all the arrangements together and booking boats and accommodation in Seahouses Village if anyone is interested?

 

med_gallery_23619_840_104742.jpg

 

Sir David Attenborough was once asked.....

"Where in the UK offers the best opportunity to capture magnificent nature?"

His answer was... "The Farne Islands during the breeding season in spring would be my favourite"

 

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@@Safari Cal Just moved this to the UK birding subforum. Matt

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I'm interested @@Safari Cal

depends a bit on exactly when, but it would be great to get back to Northumberland.

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Posted (edited)

@@Safari Cal I've actually booked a week's holiday in Seahouses for the last week of May 2014 (half-term). I'll be taking the whole family (all three boys!) and we'll be staying in a cottage which is a five minute walk from the harbour. The only problem with half-term is the premium prices you have to pay for decent self-catering accommodation! The Farne Islands are at the top of my agenda for the puffins at that time of the year. As well as the birds, you'll also have a good chance of seeing the grey seals.

 

We will also be visiting a few of the castles in the area, including Alnwick Castle (and gardens) which was the setting for Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films (the wife's a big Harry Potter fan!).

 

Barter Books is another must-visit for us: http://www.barterbooks.co.uk/html/About%20Us/The%20Bookshop.php

Edited by africapurohit

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We might also be interested depending on when and for how long..

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @@Game Warden

 

Cool, it looks like there's every chance of a mini gtg in Northumberland :D

 

med_gallery_23619_848_500458.jpg

 

Hi @@Soukous, @@africapurohit, @@kittykat23uk, I normally spend the May bank holiday weekend in Seahouses; that's on the 24/25th May in 2014. I reckon that the May half term may work for a few people but others, who have children, might already have other plans. What's the general consensus on the bank holiday weekend?

 

I normally book into The Olde Ship Inn which has a great bar, beer garden (where we can discuss the shots that got away) and decent rooms. Prices are between £47 - £65 per night.

 

Here's the link: http://www.seahouses.co.uk/theoldeship/home.htm

 

The end of May is about as early as you want to go if you want those classic Sand eel in mouth shots...

 

med_gallery_23619_848_512295.jpg

 

...and to get your head pecked by the Arctic Terns...

 

med_gallery_23619_848_2846271.jpg

 

...and also have the best chance of actually landing on Staple Island as well as Inner Farne. Here's a map of the Islands for those that may not know exactly where they are.

 

farne-island-map.gif

There are two types of trips available:

 

The All Day Birdwatch trip (Price: £30 Adult, £18 children, plus National Trust landing fee)

 

It normally leaves around 10am (depending on the tides) and visits Staple Island where you get close to the Puffins and Fulmars as well as having a chance to get great shots of Razorbills and Guillemots and then onto Inner Farne where you get the Terns: Sandwich, Common and Arctic as well as the odd Roseate Tern (not spotted recently though). There are the odd rarities that drop in though so you have to keep an eye out. The day lasts around 6 hours, and takes in the seals and the nesting birds on the cliffs as well as giving you around 1.5 - 2 hours on each Island.

 

Cruise to Staple island or Inner Farne (Price: £13 Adult, £9 children, plus National Trust landing fee)

 

You normally have a cruise out to see the seals and seabirds on the cliffs before landing at your chosen Island for around an hour. These trips leave at various times throughout the day.

 

 

 

 

Other things to do:

 

For those that may want to spend longer in the area - Bamburgh Castle is just up the road and Dunstanburgh Castle is just to the south. If you like wading birds there's Budle Bay or even Lindsfarne to the North. Heading inland it isn't too far to Alnwick Castle or you could visit Cragside, which was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity. Apparently it's crammed full of ingenious gadgets – most of them still working, and has incredible gardens. Kielder Forest is around an hour away and offers loads of outdoor activities as well as photographic opportunities.

Edited by Safari Cal

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What a great looking trip and a chance to explore an interesting part of Blighty. Thanks for getting this going @@Safari Cal.

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@@Safari Cal I arrive on the night of Friday 23rd May, so I'll be happy to try to catch up with any ST members over the weekend. The cottage we're renting is only a 5 minute walk from The Olde Ship Inn.

 

@@Game Warden maybe you should to try to come down? It's only a 6-hour drive from your mum's :).

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@@Game Warden Do you ever get the chance to travel as far north as Northumberland?

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I will give this some thought when I get back from Spain! :D

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Alas, school term times are different here where I am. But this looks a really appealing jaunt.

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Cool, have a great trip to Spain @kittykat23uk

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We will also be visiting a few of the castles in the area, including Alnwick Castle (and gardens) which was the setting for Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films (the wife's a big Harry Potter fan!).

 

Durham Cathedral is the location of the Hogwarts courtyard scenes :D you can't miss that!!!

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@@Safari Cal that looks brilliant.

Shame it has to be a Bank Holiday really as it would be nice to avoid the crowds, but I understand the logic/reasoning.

 

What should we do next? Make our own bookings at Olde Ship or wait until you have confirmed the dates?

 

Dunstandburgh Castle is awesome.

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Oh and one question @@Safari Cal

what lens are you using for your puffin & Tern shots?

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Durham Cathedral is the location of the Hogwarts courtyard scenes :D you can't miss that!!!

 

 

@@Safari Cal let's not go overboard (pun intended), I can't let Harry Potter interfere too much with my time on the islands :D

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Maybe if you're lucky you'll see Buckbeak flapping around :)

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@@Safari Cal we (Hanne and myself) are definitely interested in doing this. We would drive up from Coventry on the 23rd and return on the Monday holiday.

 

I know the coast further south, my great grandfather was a coal miner from Marske, but I don't know the area north of Newcastle so whatever we do will be interesting, however the all day birdwatching trip is a must.

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Hi Everyone,

 

While not ideal given that its going to be busier, it looks like the best dates for everyone are the end of May bank holiday weekend 23rd - 26th May.

 

Confirmed so far are:

 

Myself

@@africapurohit

@@Soukous

 

Possibles:

 

@@JohnR

@@kittykat23uk

 

It would be great to get some feedback on what you'd like to do over the weekend as some of you will have a family agenda that weekend and will probably want to dip in say hi to everyone and then go do your own thing. I know the area fairly well so can at least point you in the right direction if nothing else.

 

For those that can hook up for the trip out to the Islands, I propose that we all make our own bookings at the hotel (as there's a £25 deposit when you book) and plan to arrive on the evening of the 23rd. As soon as you've confirmed bookings I'll book the boat trip out to the islands on the Saturday for those that are interested.

 

As well as The Olde Ship there's also the Bamburgh Castle Inn - if the Olde Ship isn't to your taste - http://www.bamburghcastlehotel.co.uk/main.htm

 

Those that can't make the trip out to the Islands could meet up with us for a few drinks/meal later in the evening of the 23rd or 24th?

 

Most of you will have travelled some distance, and may be tired on the evening of the 23rd, so I think we should be flexible and have an 'optional' break the ice drink/meal in the evening, and plan to meet in the morning at breakfast before heading out to the Farne Islands. But we can firm this up nearer the time.

 

The next stage is that you confirm your bookings to me and what you'd like to do over the weekend, then I'll contact Billy Shiel and book us all on the appropriate boat trip.

 

If the numbers permit I could try to charter a boat for us, as the Billy Shiel boats are packed over that weekend normally; making it hard to get shots of the seals and birds nesting on the cliffs at times. But the time spent on the islands will be awesome.

 

@@Soukous The lenses I normally use are:

 

Puffins etc 100-400mm or 300mm/2.8 + 2x converter attached

Terns 10-20mm Sigma (they're that close!) Be prepared to get your head pecked, a good hat is essential.

 

I normally carry 2 bodies, one with the wide angle attached, the other on a tripod with longer lens attached, but I do tend to hand hold for the in-flight shots as the Puffins come in so fast, like little missiles, from the sea!

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Posted (edited)

Update...

 

I just contacted The Olde Ship Inn, they are only taking bookings between 10am -3pm at the moment as the receptionist only works those hours. They will take a £25 deposit per person when taking the booking.

 

@@africapurohit Can't you do one of those Hermione spells that slows down time and fit the lot in, come on, make an effort hehehe!!!! The things we do for our kids eh? Oops, and wives haha :rolleyes:

 

Hey @@Game Warden, I don't think Buckbeak has traveled this far north for many a year! Something of a rarity in these parts these days... but we should keep our eyes open as you just never know!!!

 

@@Soukous This is how close the Terns get, and they peck at anything exposed: head,ears, fingers!!! I've seen blood drawn.

 

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@@JohnR We can swap tips, I don't really know the area south of the Tyne! I think I need to rectify this :D

Edited by Safari Cal
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I tried using the booking form on their website but haven't heard back so I'll phone tomorrow.

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There better be a great trip report following this trip. I expect some top notch birding photos too :)

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@@Game Warden I hope someone is taking a good camera and lens then :D

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I thought we'd just sit in the pub, cameras? What cameras?? lol

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Now booked in at the Olde Ship Inn.

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