Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Farne Islands 2010 Puffin Season!

Whew. Just spent the last 4 days away from home, of which 2 days were spent on the Farne Islands (Inner Farne, specifically) and the other two for travel. Let's start with a few of my favourites from the 800 odd shoots I took.

Getting to the Farnes by public transport is quite an endevour. A train from King's Cross up to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, then me and a fellow photog took a bus from the train station (Travelsure.co.uk) direct to Seahouses. We'd rented a very very nice B&B place, Chapel Row Cottage (from The Old Ship Inn). We were very lucky to have gotten a 3 for 2 deal, which cut our costs in a third!

Of the two days we were there, Staples Island was off limits due to the weather :-/ Thankfully we were still able to spend 2 full afternoon on Inner Farnes.

The trip on the boat was generally uneventful, though there are many opportunities to capture puffins flying low over the water (no chance for me - bad place on the boat), the occasional seal and many other birds.

The island itself belongs to the national trust, and costs £6 for entry, in addition to the boat fare. Bring a hat of sorts, as the terns are also nesting, and they will dive bomb you in defense of their nests.

Their nests are laid out all over the island, sometimes in the middle of the path (the wardens will erect a barrier in the paths), so do expect to get bopped on the noggin a few times.

I brought my full wildlife kit out for this trip, D300, D200, 70-200VR, 300/4, 1.4x TC, Monopod, Flash, Flash Extender. It was also quite cool, and was thankful I brought my winter gear which not only provides protection against the cold breeze, but also the bird droppings.

There are several areas of Inner Farnes that provide excellent photo ops; the cliffs have a few puffins, and nesting Commorants, Razorbills, Kitiwakes, plus a whole bunch of Guillemots.

Nesting terns can be found throughout the whole island, from the side of the pathways to every nook and cranny.

One section of the island has a very dense puffin population, and it provides a great area to see how the puffins and gulls interact, and during the later hours of the day, provide a really good place to shoot birds in flight.

I used 3 focal lengths for BIF shots, the 70-200 at 200mm, and the 300/4 with and without the TC.

By far my favourites - generally luck really - were with the 200mm, though the 300/4 has a fair few good shots. The AF of the 300/4 has difficulty locking on when the cloud cover is heavy. The TC equipped on the 300/4 generally allows much easier tracking, but I am unsatisfied with the results using a 1/2500 shutter speed. I may need to push it to 1/4000 if need be to get the detail I want.

The return to London was uneventful. We had to cab it up to Berwick though, as there were no bus services.

Am hoping to photograph the seals at Donna Nook later this year. Fingers crossed!


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