Puffins and Angels Farne Islands Seabird Photography Workshop
£65.00 – £124.00
“What an amazing day I had on 19th June on our trip to the Farne Islands. I am so pleased with my pictures. I now have the classic puffin with sand eels picture that you see so much. I think the day was the highlight of my holiday and such a friendly bunch of people.” ~ Jakki Walden
At a glance
My Farne Islands puffin photography workshops are born from the same passion for the islands as I had when I wrote the book Wildlife of the Farne Islands. The Farnes remain one of my favourite places in the world to photograph wildlife and I return there several times a year for the magnificent abundance of seabirds and seals. See below for information on this fantastic opportunity to photograph puffins in the UK.
Whatever the time of year, there’s always something to see. The Farne Islands are one of Northumberland’s crown jewels: a few kilometres off the pristine Bamburgh Castle beach lie several rocky dots in the sea, home to a staggering array of puffins, guillemots, terns, razorbills, shags, gulls and seals amongst a cast of thousands of others. This is the home of that iconic clown of the sea: the puffin. Every photographer wants to see and photograph a puffin. On this workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to photograph some of the 40,000 puffins of the Farne Islands, both on the ground and in flight.
Not only that, but that champion globe trotter, the angelic Arctic tern makes the Farnes its breeding home. This amazing little bird travels right down to the Southern Ocean and back again each year, clocking up a staggering 2.5 million kilometres in its 30 year lifetime. That’s the equivalent of flying to the moon and back three times. Impressive stuff.
Also, because the Farne Islands lie off the east coast of Northumberland, thousands of migrant birds stream across them every year. This windfall adds to the breeders on the islands so that nearly 200 different species have been reported. As I write this a golden oriole, a wryneck and a rustic bunting have just buzzed up on my phone via BirdGuides. There’s never a dull moment at the Farnes.
Bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises are regularly sighted round the islands and even whales have been seen from time to time. I’ve twice had large numbers of dolphins round the boat at a workshop, to everyone’s delight. I wish I could guarantee it every time! However, what I can guarantee is a smorgasbord of seabirds – some 160,000 of them.
I’ll be on hand at all times to give you as much (or as little) help as you need. All levels of photographer are very welcome on this workshop, as are non-photographing companions for a small charge.
HERE’S AN IDEA OF THE ITINERARY FOR OUR DAY OUT
Times are approximate and depend on weather and tides amongst other factors. I’ll let you know what our initial meeting times are a few days before the workshop.
- 9:45am Meet at the Serenity Tours kiosk on Seahouses harbour.
- 10:30am Board our boat and head out to sail around the islands looking for seabirds and seals on the cliffs and rocks.
- 11:30am Attempt to land on Staple Island. This particular island can be tricky to land on if the swell is too great as it’s part of the outer group of islands. If we can’t land, we’ll spend more time photographing the birds from the sea.
- 1pm Head for Inner Farne via a sail-around.
- 1:30pm Arrive at Inner Farne. Inner Farne is pretty much guaranteed to be accessible because it has a much better jetty and is more sheltered than Staple Island. It’s incredibly rare to not be able to get onto the island.
- 4:30pm Return from Inner Farne to Seahouses.
If you’re also with us for the sunset evening cruise:
- 5pm Fish & chips! Bring cash for one of the best fish suppers in the UK.
- 7pm Head out again for an island sail-around. The light at this time in the evening can be absolutely stunning. We’ll also look out for the delightful spectacle of ‘jumplings’ where baby guillemots fledge from the nest site by jumping into the sea to meet their fathers. If the sunset is kind to us, Bamburgh Castle up the coast looks incredible on our return journey.
- 9pm Return to Seahouses, exhausted but happy!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO BRING
- Camera, lenses, tripod or monopod, spare media cards and batteries. If you have a flash, bring that; it can really help to add punch to a shot and counteract high-contrast or back-lit situations. Don’t be scared of your flash! Short and macro lenses can be really effective too, as you can get very close to some of the birds. In general, the most useful focal lengths are between 200-500mm at the long end and 16-50mm at the shorter end for full frame cameras. Don’t forget that non-full frame sensor cameras will multiply your focal lens. e.g. a Canon 7D with an APS-C sensor gives you an extra 60% reach due to the 1.6x crop factor, so 400mm becomes 640mm.
- A packed lunch and drinks.
- Sun tan lotion (we all live in hope).
- A hat (the terns will go for the top of your head in the breeding season!)
- Warm and waterproof clothing and outdoor shoes / boots. The weather is unpredictable, even in high summer.
- Camera cover in case of rain.
- If you’re a National Trust member, bring your card for free access to the Islands. If you’re not a member, the National Trust rangers charge £26 to land on both islands (this fee covers you for Inner Farne and Staple Island). This cost went up significantly for the 2017 season and is about double what it was in 2016. Please see the “All day ticket Inner Farne & Staple, May – July” section at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/farne-islands#Prices for more info. You’ll need to buy these tickets at the National Trust kiosk / vehicle at the harbour (near the boat kiosks) before we travel on the day. You can join the NT on the day, which will give you free access. They also usually offer a refund of your day fee if you join as a member after your trip to the Farnes, although I can’t guarantee that’ll always be available.
- Some cash for fish & chips!
OTHER THINGS OF NOTE
- You don’t need to be fit and there isn’t a great deal of walking necessary on the islands, but you’ll be carrying camera gear and the ground is uneven. This trip is unfortunately not suitable for wheelchairs as there’s no access.
- Our catamaran is superb for photography and is more stable than most boats, with very little roll. If you’re prone to seasickness, it might still be worth coming prepared with appropriate tablets or other remedies. Occasionally we may do part of the trip on one of the other boats, although usually we stick to the catamaran.
- Seahouses has lots of parking. If you’re early enough, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to park on or next to the harbour. Charges are typically £4 all day here. Alternatively there is a car park above the harbour (next to the RNLI) and a large car park in the centre of Seahouses where it’s usually a little bit cheaper.
- Toilets are available next to the main car park in the centre of Seahouses. There is also a toilet on the catamaran and one on Inner Farne.
- There are plenty of shops in Seahouses where you can buy sandwiches, gifts and so on. There is usually also a burger / coffee van on the harbour. Inner Farne has a shop on the island, but it usually only sells books, gifts and memberships. Sometimes they have water to sell if it’s particularly hot, but don’t rely on it.
Thu 22 Jun 2017 (al day + sunset cruise)
Approx. 9:45 – 16:30 for the all day trip or 9:45 – 21:00 for all day + evening
Beginner to advanced
Farne Islands, Northumberland
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