In this blogposting…
* Farne Islands Blog
* Davidia Involucrata

I hope you’ve been keeping an eye on the Farne Islands blog.  This year, as every year, it’s made exciting and thought-provoking reading - and about now, things are starting to really come alive there.

I’m genuinely ashamed to say that I’ve only been to the Farnes once.  This is not through any lack of interest or curiosity; the unfortunate factor I have to take into consideration when contemplating a visit is the unhappy stretch of water you have to cross to get there.  I made my one and only trip over twenty years ago and still feel more than a little queasy at the mere memory…

It was summer and the sea conditions were described as ‘calm’ - a usage of the word previously unknown to me.  The boat began to pitch and yaw - or whatever the right mariner expressions are - as soon as it escaped the protection of Seahouses harbour; and to such an extent that I instantly regretted the ice-cream I’d just eaten.

It’s not really that far to Inner Farne but the crossing seemed to take hours. By the time we reached the little jetty I wasn’t at all sure what direction to look in to see the horizon - or even whether I wanted to see it at all.  And naturally, the time I spent on the island was marred by the knowledge that I’d have to make the return trip sooner or later.

I’m not proud that seasickness unmans me like this but I suppose I have to accept that it does and that, despite my enthusiasm to do so, I won’t be going back to the Farnes anytime soon.

But, if you have better sea-legs than me - and almost anyone does - this is a particularly auspicious time of year to go.

As proof, I reproduce here the contents of the latest posting on the Farne Islands blog, just in case you can’t access it.  I’ve never copied another blog in its entirety before but I reckon it’s worth doing so this time, specially if it encourages sturdier visitors than me to get over there and enjoy the breathtaking wildlife and scenery on our doorstep.

‘Friday 24th May
If you are are looking for somewhere to go this week, or unsure about weather, do not worry, the Farne Islands will be open and its going to be spectacular - trust me, I know these things. The weeks forecast is suggesting light winds (and even some sunshine!), the sea state should be good to sail and the breeding seabirds are doing their thing. It is a must this week - the Farne Islands, get it pencilled in.

For all those wanting to know, here is a quick seabird update....

Puffins - present in huge numbers, all now nesting and we've even got a live 'Puffin Cam' beaming images from a nest

Eiders - numbers appear up from last year and plenty nesting (one even nesting under a bench)

Arctic Terns - now on eggs so bring a hat - you have been warned!

Sandwich Tern - the colony is increasing daily but over 500 pairs now nesting on Inner Farne

Shag - the population has reduced but still plenty nesting

Razorbill - all now on eggs

Guillemots -  thousands present on eggs and the first chicks could be hatching later this week

Kittiwakes - finally now on eggs! Its full steam ahead.

So there you go. The Farnes will be open daily and in words of a certain Mr Bill Oddie recently "There are just a few places that I would recommend to anyone and feel absolutely confident that they would have an unforgettable experience.

The Farne Islands in Northumberland is – or are – one of them. I’d recommend April to early September, with June and July for maximum bird activity. I have visited sea bird colonies all round the world and believe me the Farnes are the best place to literally walk amongst terns, shags, kittiwakes and the photogenic and endlessly entertaining puffins. Simply the best."

So there you go. Get yourself here. The Farne Islands, the best in the business.’

We seem to have hit the organisational buffers with AGM XLI, which has therefore been abandoned to await better auguries and auspices.

A big Thankyou to Brenda for keeping us posted on the Pocket Handkerchief Tree in the quad of Newcastle University.

When I became interested in unusual trees and shrubs, two in particular caught my wayward attention - the Blue Bean (Decaisnea fargesii) and the Pocket Handkerchief Tree.  Actually seeing them in cultivation somewhere hasn’t been easy, though.

I’ve only ever seen one Blue Bean, in the grounds of Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran.

And, although Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens were the proud possessors of a Pocket Handkerchief Tree, I was never able to time a visit to coincide with its flowering season and so was seriously delighted to learn that we have one here in Newcastle.
I’ll be down in the Town again on Tuesday and with any luck, our local Davidia involucrata will oblige me with a display I’ve wanted to see for many years.  Fingers crossed.

And thanks again, Brenda - you’re a star.

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com


hildie said...

Did you know that it's
Amble Puffin Festival
at the moment? Apparently,they
are celebrating everything

And did you know that baby
puffins are called pufflings?

Hildie said...

Ian ....
next Wednesday
or Thursday ...
you, me and some
Truckshunters ...
cup of coffee
in the town ...
what do you think?

We could call it
AGM XLI if you like.

Sunny weather is
supposed to be heading
our way from Friday.

Keith Johnson said...

Keith and linda are back in uk Wednesday so Thursday would be good for us. If that's not convenient then we'll catch up another time.