Dutch grey seals, immigrants from Britain


This video from England says about itself:

Some footage shot in the Farne Isles diving with Grey Seals.

Filmed with a Sony FX1 in a Gates FX1/Z1 housing with a Fathom Imaging wide-angle lens in ambient light.

Translated from IMARES research institute in the Netherlands:

September 10, 2014

In the Middle Ages, the gray seals in the Netherlands became extinct. Now they are back, gloriously so! Today here live the largest number of Atlantic gray seals of the European mainland. In less than thirty years this grew from some visitors to more than 3,000 individuals. It went so fast that it cannot be explained by the number of births only. Researchers from the research institute IMARES on Texel have now calculated that the seal population of Great Britain plays a large role in this story.

The British gray seal population bring permanently “immigrants” affecting the growth in the Dutch Wadden Sea. In spring and summer there are also another temporary ‘tourists’. “The development of the population in the Wadden Sea is strongly influenced by seals from the other side of the North Sea. Therefore, cooperation with other countries is extremely important for conservation, policy and research,” said biologist Sophie Brasseur. She has published, along with her colleagues, an article about the successful return of the gray seal in the scientific journal Marine Mammal Science.

See also here.

Discover four of the best places to see a grey seal in the UK: here.

Exposing the grey seal as a major predator of harbour porpoises: here.

Ringing birds in Bahrain


This is a video about a bridled tern, on 3 July 2013. This individual landed at an unusual place for this tropical species: among Arctic terns on the Farne islands in England.

Every now and then, news from Bahrain which is not about torture or political imprisonment.

By Jem Babbington:

Ringing terns – Al Jarrim Island south (Bahrain)

5 July 2014

On Friday 20 June I set off at 02:30 hrs to go to Bahrain to ring terns. I met up with Jason, Nicole, Ali, Mahmood, Ahmed and a couple of others to go out to the island at 04:00 to ring tern chicks. This is one of the best days ringing of the year for me and it is amazing to be on an island full of breeding terns.

Ali has a new more powerful boat now that he also uses to take people diving in Bahrain and it has two 250 HP engines and a covered roof, so is very fast. We arrived at the island at 06:00 hrs and set about first ringing Bridled Tern chicks. They nest under cover of the vegetation and are incredibly well camouflaged and sit tight so good eyesight and a lot of help are required.

We do these first as it is extremely hard work and want to do it in the coolest part of the day before temperatures rise into the 40’s Celsius. There were three ringers and we ringed a total of 143 Bridled Tern chicks that is slightly less than normal. After this we set up our corral to catch Lesser Crested Tern Chicks that are all gathered together in large crèches of baby terns with hundreds of adults looking after them.

As they are all in large groups we walk the birds down into our corral and transfer them to large baskets for processing. Since this capture technique was devised we have become much more proficient and we catch lots of birds in a short time and process them as quickly as possible so they can return to their parents for shade.

We keep the birds in covered baskets with a wet towel on top to keep them cool and we have not lost a single bird doing this. We ringed 997 Lesser Crested Tern chicks and ran out of rings, this being the biggest number of birds we have singed in a single day since we started going to the islands.

We also ringed three White-cheeked Tern chicks a species that has not bred on this island in the previous three breeding seasons I have visited. They do breed on the middle island but we have only been here once and it was a nice surprise to see the adults feeding young on the south island. Another nice surprise was to see an adult Bridled Tern I photographed with a ring on, indicating it is one of our birds.

We have ringed hundreds of young birds and a single adult that Nicole rescued from a fishing net so it is impossible to tell if this is a young bird returning to breed or not. We also found at least ten Indian Reef Heron nests with large young in them. Normally there are only one of two nests but this year the numbers are much higher so some reason.

An interesting fact was that under every Indian Reef Heron nest a Bridled Tern chick was hiding. I would like to thank Ali and all the helpers for this excellent days ringing.

More about birds in Bahrain: here.

English Sandwich tern migration to Africa


This video from England is called Sandwich terns return to RSPB Coquet Island.

From the Farne Islands Blog in England:

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Mines a double!

Saturday 22nd February comments: This summer, for the first time on the Farne Islands, we ringed just over 100 Sandwich Tern chicks with small red darvics; special red plastic rings which have a unique three letter code enabling observers to read them in the ‘field’ with telescopes.

As a result we had a ‘return’ from a beach in Gambia in November as bird ‘UFA’ was spotted roosting amongst other terns on a beach. Now make that a double. News has just arrived that another of our Sandwich Terns has been seen, this time further south of Gambia in the Bijagos Archipelago off Guinee-Bissau. The bird fitted with the red darvic ‘UKS’ was noted on 22nd January.

This sighting shows you the value of such a ringing scheme and we hope this is the first of many sightings in future years so if you’re going abroad this winter, you may be a lot closer to the Farnes than you think!

Sandwich Tern ‘UKS’ movements:

17th July 2013 ringed as a chick on Inner Farne
13th August 2013 seen at Findhorn Bay, Moray
18th August 2013 seen again at Findhorn Bay, Moray
22nd January seen on a beach at Bubaque, Guinee-Bissau

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Rare dolphins near English Farne Islands


This video from England says about itself:

Dolphins swimming off the Farne Islands.

Filmed from Glad Tidings VI on the 16th November 2013.

Wow!

These are bottlenose dolphins.

This video from England says about itself:

2 Common Dolphins at the Farne Islands on November 17th 2013 playing with the bow of the boat and then following other boats all the way into Seahouses harbour.

And this video from England says about itself:

2 Common Dolphins in the harbour of Seahouses on Nov 17th 2013. Filmed from Serenity II.

From the Serenity blog in England (with photos there):

Common Dolphins 17/11/2013

This blog should have been out a week ago but I suppose it better late than ever.

Anyway last Sunday (17th) I was on a 1.5 hour trip around the Farne Islands when my friend Ron gave me a shout saying that he had seen 2 dolphins at the Blue Caps.

I was nearly at Staple Island and I was praying that they would wait for us to arrive. By the time I got there they had been around all the boats and even a diver of Toby’s boat said that one of them swam straight past him.

As I got closer I could see about 6/7 Seals playing on the surface and then the 2 Dolphins came jumping out of the water.

I could not believe what I was witnessing and in my wildest dreams I never thought dolphins and seals would play together, but it looked like they were having so much fun until I turned up.

The pair left the seals and started to bow ride the boat. At first they were way ahead of the boat so I went a little faster and they seemed to enjoy it a bit more. They were really showing off so I went a little bit faster until I was doing 20 knots and they kept up with the boat. Now that is some speed and I don’t know how fast they can go but whatever the speed is 20 knots is very impressive.

They stayed with us for a while and then disappeared, so we turned around and headed over towards the seals.

Once we arrived back at the harbour I was praying that they would still be there for our next guests and as we steamed out of the harbour I noticed my cousin pointing at the bow of his boat. As I looked to see what he was meaning the dolphins jumped out of the water. They had followed him all the way back to the harbour and as I stopped they just followed him into the harbour. I could not believe they were actually in the harbour.

Another boat turned up and then another and at one stage we had 4 boats viewing the 2 dolphins swimming around us all.

I have never in my life seen dolphins in the harbour and to make it even better it was Common Dolphins, which have never been seen in Northumberland since 1989 and a first for the Farne Islands.

As I finished my last trip of the day and they were still outside the harbour until dark. A great record for the Farne Islands and hopefully not the last.

Sorry as all my pictures were taken on a mobile as I left my camera at home.

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Puffins counted on Farne Islands


This video from Britain says about itself:

Puffin-cam: Live from the burrow

May 17, 2013

The very first National Trust “Puffin Cams” have now been installed in the Farne Islands puffin breeding colony off the coast of Northumberland. The cameras will record highlights throughout the breeding season, charting the ups and downs of these plucky little birds. See how the cameras were installed and find out what it means for the future of the Farnes colony. For all the latest updates, follow @NTsteely, Tweet #puffincensus or check out our web pages at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/northeast.

From Wildlife Extra:

Puffin count starts on Farne Islands

5 yearly census underway

May 2013. A Puffin census has begun at the north east’s most amazing wildlife habitat, the windswept Farne Islands, as National Trust rangers attempt to find how many breeding pairs of these iconic birds live on the Islands.

Every 5 years

The census takes place every five years and records date back to 1939 when 3,000 breeding pairs were recorded.

2008 showed first decine

Until 2008, each survey since the census began 65 years ago showed a steady increase in pairs of puffins on the Farne Islands, but the last count indicated numbers had fallen by a third. The 2008 survey recorded 36,500 pairs of puffins across eight islands compared to 55,674 pairs living on the Islands in the 2003 census.

How to count a puffin

This spring and summer a team of eleven National Trust rangers will be travelling between eight of the Farne Islands to carry out the mammoth task of counting every single bird. Puffins nest underground in burrows, which means the rangers will have to put their arms into the holes to make sure that the nests are occupied during the comprehensive count.

David Steel, Head Ranger for the Farne Islands told us: “We’ve been monitoring a small section of the Farnes every year since the last census in 2008 and have seen a small increase in numbers in this area. We’re hoping to see an increase overall numbers this year but you can’t tell after the winter we’ve just had.”

Puffin factors

Factors for why the Puffins continue to flourish on the Farne Islands include better protection, good sources of food and a lack of ground predators and the availability of suitable nesting areas. However rangers on the Farne Islands fear that the extreme colds weather this winter which has led to a higher than average mortality rate may affect numbers.

Coldest March since 1962 – Could impact breeding

David Steel continued: “This March was the coldest on record since 1962 and this could impact on breeding numbers. The extreme winds affected the puffin’s ability to feed as they made their way back to their summer breeding grounds. It will be interesting to see the results of the puffin census which we will have available to share in July.”

Nest cameras

For the first time, nest cameras have been inserted into puffin burrows to record the birds’ behaviour in intimate detail.

Puffin census on Farne Islands shows numbers rising: here.

Atlantic puffin population is in danger, scientists warn: here.

Fane Islands and Scotland bird photography: here.

What freshwater seals eat


This video from England says about itself:

Some footage shot in the Farne Isles diving with Grey Seals.

Translated from Ecomare museum in the Netherlands:

Until now it was unknown what gray seals in our fresh water eat. But a gray seal which washed up dead on the fresh water side of the Afsluitdijk dam now has changed that. When scientists investigated the cause of its death they also examined what the animal had eaten. In the stomach and intestines of the adult female researchers found seven different species of fish. Perch, flounder, ruffe, zander and smelt were the most eaten. Which the seal had all caught in the IJsselmeer lake.

Afsluitdijk fish migration plan: here.

Arctic tern chicks feeding, video


This video, by Fabiola Forns from Britain, is about an adult Arctic tern feeding its two chicks, Farne Islands, UK.

More about this species is here. And here.