Seahouses and Sea birds – Farne Islands, Northumberland UK

If you hadn’t noticed by now, I am easily seduced by the scent of the sea. I truly adore a bitty seaside village that sits beside the shore. Salt air. Sand. Waves lapping. Salves for my soul. Come with me to Seahouses. This is different from a sommerhus, this is the quirky little town called Seahouses on the Northumberland Coast in Great Britain. Specifically northeastern England. It’s late spring, early summer. We recently visited at beginning of May. And with us were seabirds and seals and other sea creatures.

Seahouses serves as the launch port for several operations offering day cruises to the Farne Islands – a nearby cluster of 15-20 little plops of land depending on where the tide stands. Mostly uninhabited by humans, the Farne Islands play host to seabirds who mate and court and nest here every year in the protected sites upon their shores. Hundreds of thousands of birds. The skies full of them. Guillemots and Terns. Kittiwakes and Puffins. Eider Ducks and Shags. Cormorants and Razor Bill. The cacophony. The display. The poop. Wear a hat. It is absolutely worth a visit. Amazing to see.

We chose a 2.5 hour round trip from Seahouses aboard the Serenity 2. From the port, on their stable catamaran, we cruised around the islands to end at Inner Farne, where we had an hour to explore and witness the nesting sites up close. There is a ranger station with a visitor center where you can watch the puffin den cameras. You can see bird skulls and feel feathers and artifacts up close. Start here before setting out on the boardwalk to the cliffs.

If you are not a member of the U.K. National Trust – you will need to purchase a day pass to land at Inner Farne or Staple Island. This can be done easily at port from the National Trust information booth. Keep your receipt as you will be required to show a ranger upon landing.

Day price during peak months of May, June & July – Adult: £7.40, Child £3.80, Family: £19.00

Boat tour prices vary between companies and offerings.

In early May, the Guillemots (pronounced “Gilly-mot” in these parts) are nesting along the rocks. And while they might not be the most spectacularly feathered species among the birds common here, they are graphic in their black and white and lay the most beautiful speckled blue greenish eggs right on the rock face. We spotted a few amidst the chaos and were assured not to worry, that they won’t roll off their precarious perch due to a special shape. They wobble like a Weeble and don’t fall down.*

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Guillemots and Kittiwakes nesting in the Farne Islands, Northumberland UK

Overhead, terns were swooping and screeching and not quite yet nesting, beautiful and balletic. Our captain explained, in the thickest of accents, that the puffins were just starting to settle down in their burrows, having muscled out a resident rabbit who might have shared their den. On Inner Farne, around the boardwalk along the cliffs, rangers help identify birds and spot the first chicks of the season. The littlest Shags, only two days old, dared to peek from underneath mama’s warm belly. She, black and fancy, is easy to spot with her tufted feather pompidour, clinging to the cliffs, quite close the walk.

Eider duck mothers, the fastest of their kind, now calm and stoic rest upon flat nests on the ground. Puffins so busy – in and out, in and out of the sea or a new burrow. Not as many now as there will be, as it’s early in their season at the beginning of May. But by peak, nearly 90,000 available puffin burrows will fill around the islands. Their clowny yellow beaks and ungraceful flight make them a fowl favorite for sure.

Nearly 6,000 seals also make their homes on these rocks and they were plentiful playing in the shores of the outer islands. Porpoises are often seen following the boats, but did not join us on our visit.

Back on shore, don’t miss the Royal National Lifeboat station nearby. The RNLI is a volunteer run rescue operation with outposts around the UK. Here in Seahouses (and in Whitby), visitors get a chance to see the boat up close and learn of its history all for free. Need to get your land legs back? Head down the way to Bamburgh Castle. We missed the well preserved museum, but enjoyed the view from the adjacent dunes and the huge swath of beach out front. Perfect for jumping and ball playing and digging.

Want to stay in Seahouses? We can recommend the Bamburgh Castle Inn and Pub right on the harbor. Walk-in space for our family of five altogether in a wonderful room with a sea view. Full English breakfast included. For refreshments, try the kitschy but fun The Olde Ship Inn across the street for a pint. The people here are friendly and welcoming and accommodating.

Where are you reading from? Please say hej or ciao or hello or however you do wherever you are in the comments below – I would love to know! Cheers from Copenhagen! – Erin

*If you know what a Weeble is – raise your hand!

 

 

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49 thoughts on “Seahouses and Sea birds – Farne Islands, Northumberland UK

  1. I loved the photo of the nesting guillemots and kittiwakes (this is the first time I have heard both names). Enjoyed reading your post about the different sea birds around Farne islands.

  2. Martha

    You know I love all the seabirds too. This reminds me of our side trip in Scotland to a bird island near Edinburgh.

  3. Hand raised for Weeble familiarity! Liked the birds, too, especially the leaper. Reminded me of teenage swan dives at the local pool (in the days of Weebles).

  4. Živjo from Slovenia, Hola from Mexico!! Thanks for showing us another unique experience this week. I truly felt like I was transported there 🙂 #wanderfulwednesday

  5. Hola from Chile!! Your pictures seriously leave me speechless! Yet another drool worthy destination! It looks so calm, relaxing and peaceful! I don’t even mind having to wear a hat if I could get that close to so many awesome birds! Thanks for linking up for #WanderfulWednesday today! 😀

  6. That really looks fabulous – and somewhere I’d love to visit. There’s something very special about the coast, even more so when it’s as well populated with wildlife as it is here. #WanderfulWednesday

  7. What a stunning island, and I never heard of it before, thank you for that!
    Amazing pictures as always 🙂
    Funny that you mention about wearing a heat because of the birds, in Greece pigeons pooped on my husband twice, one day after the other. I really had to laugh at him when the second time happened… :’D

    Happy to have you on #MondayEscapes once again.

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  9. This is such a lovely nostalgic post for me. A trip to Seahouses – including a boat trip around the Farne Islands – was the first stayaway school trip I ever took back in Primary School. I love all the detail and photos of the birds you’ve included here (and the tip about bringing a hat ;)!) Pinning for later 😀

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Oh yay! Glad I could take you back! It was a great outing and I can imagine a perfect place for an outdoor school overnight!

  10. The nesting birds just fascinates me so much. I reeeeally wanted to see nesting puffins when we went to Scotland but we couldn’t do the tour as E wasn’t old enough for the boat tour. But one day I will gaze at them with binolculars 🙂

  11. Always talked about going here as it’s near where my Nana came from, sadly never made it there. Definitely need to do a trip back up though! I also want to visit Brownsea Island, another National Trust place, this time in the south, where you can see red squirrels!

  12. Salut from the South of France, my hand is up and I’ve now got that annoying little ditty going around my head….”weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”! Funny that you know it too!! I’ve been to Seahouses (funny name, strange place I thought) but we didn’t go out to the islands. It was low season and I don’t remember there being any option to take a boat trip. But we explored plenty of the stunning beaches and castles nearby. It’s a beautiful part of England. I love your tip about the hat, and will bookmark this for future visits…..#farawayfiles

  13. How beautiful Erin. Shame you didnt see the Puffins! They are my favourite bird. I’d love to visit the Farne Islands and soak up some of that fresh sea air and British eccentricity!

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    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      You know it! Thanks for the nice comments – it really was very beautiful – we didn’t know much about Northumberland, but had friends living in Middlesborough and took a few days to explore the area! Cheers, Erin

  15. Lovely! Growing up in the PNW I also love little seaside villages! As a child I always loved the little shops and restaurants in these towns, especially the ones with kitschy little souvenirs and taffy! Now, I’m loving the beautiful scenery and wildlife, a bit of wind in my face, and the smell of the sea! #farawayfiles

  16. jphowze

    I love how your post highlights that there is so much to enjoy about the sea beyond playing on a sandy beach in hot weather. Lovely pictures of a lovely trip! #farawayfiles

  17. I would love to stay in a pub by the harbour! You make Northumberland look really special and I haven’t heard much about the region before so thanks for putting it on my radar 🙂

  18. A lovely post, Erin! Those remote islands hold such unique wildlife, and I would love to experience it for myself. For now though, I am happy enough to read this post from my corner of Australia. #FarawayFiles

  19. I keep saying I’ll make it to the east coast and Farne Islands to see the puffins, your pictures prove I really need to bite the bullet and go!! It looks beautiful! #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      You should! Lots to do in Northumberland – look at Whitby too – I have a post on that also!

  20. What a wonderful post and a fascinating place. We visited a similar bird sanctuary – Rathlin Island off the coast of Northern Ireland – a couple of years back and were lucky to catch the puffins before they comically darted back to their sea life again. Didn’t know they were rabbit bullies though… Cheers from Luxembourg (yes, we came back a little early… ;o) ) #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Haha! Neither did I! But if I were the bunny – I might not mess with that beak! Cheers from Denmark!

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