Sitting off the coast of Northumberland, the Farnes are a chain of rocky islands that support one of the most impressive colonies of seabirds and seals in the whole of the UK. During the nesting season in spring and summer, the islands are home to over 100,000 seabirds. This includes a whopping 43,000 puffins as well as thousands of terns, cormorants, guillemots, gannets, razorbills, plovers, gulls, albatross-like fulmars, and eider ducks. And if that wasn’t enough, the Farne Islands support the second largest colony of grey seals in England – with 2,000 pups born every year. It’s no wonder that this spectacular slice of wild is David Attenborough’s favourite place to see wildlife in the UK!
Average rating: 5.0 (very good)
Average cost: basic boat trips to the islands cost around $20 although there are more expensive options available, including all-day bird watching trips ($52) and even diving with seals ($65).
Best time to visit: the islands are open to visitors from the end of March to the beginning of November. The best time for breeding seabirds is April to July. Later in the year you aren’t allowed to access the islands on foot, but can still take boat trips to visit the seal colonies up until mid-December. There is an excellent guide to the Farne’s wildlife around the year here.
How to get there: the Farnes can be only be accessed by boat. Boat trips leave from the town of Seahouses in Northumberland which is around 65 km from Newcastle. There is a guide to getting to the islands here.
Typical activities: bird watching, boat trip, scuba diving
Number of reports: 1
WILDLIFE IN Farne Islands
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:
Grey seal – 100% OF WildSide Users (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
The UK is home to over 50% of the world’s Atlantic grey seals, and with approximately 2,000 pups being born on the islands each year, the Farnes are an important breeding spot for the species. On the Farnes, seals can be seen all year-round. During high tide, they are most likely to be spotted swimming and bobbing around the islands looking for food or playing. During low tide, it’ll be hard to miss them lounging and basking on the island’s rocky shores. To spot pups, WildSide recommends visiting between September and December, during the period which they are normally born.
Puffin – 0% OF WildSide Users (0/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
Atlantic puffins can be seen in spring and early summer when they gather in breeding colonies across the Farnes. They can be seen peering from rocky craggs in the cliff faces, and from old rabbit warrens where they make their nests, or bobbing up and down on the sea around the cliffs. Armed with a pair of binoculars, their brightly coloured beaks can’t be missed. WildSide recommends visiting during the nesting season (April to early August). During this time over 40,000 pairs of puffins nest on the islands. By mid-August most, if not all, of the puffins will have left. So make sure you time your trip if you want to see these amazing birds!
Photo credit: gordon.milligan under a Creative Commons licence from Flickr