Islands of the Northeast: Farne Islands and Lindisfarne

A Tropical Birding “Chilled Tour” in conjunction with Birdwatching Trips UK

We are offering this special holiday for a maximum of just six guests with both Alan Davies and Ruth Miller as guides to ensure the best possible experience for each person. Birdwatching in small groups provides a much better chance of seeing all the birds possible and gives everyone a higher degree of individual attention than larger groups.

We are heading to the bird-rich northeast of England to see wonderful birds in wild places; come and join our small friendly group in June 2018!

Plenty of Puffin photo opportunities!
Plenty of Puffin photo opportunities! (Alan Davies and Ruth Miller)

We are offering an exciting five-day all-inclusive trip to visit the famous Farne Islands off the beautiful Northumbrian coast. These magical islands will be teeming with birds and we will enjoy up-close-and-personal views of the breeding seabirds here.

The Farnes are home to tens of thousands of Puffins and we will be right amongst them! If you have never experienced being in the middle of a seabird colony before, then come along and be amazed by the noise and spectacle of birds all around you; it is an unforgettable experience of a lifetime.

As well as the clown-faced puffins, we will literally walk amongst nesting terns and Eider ducks as they play out their breeding season right in front of us. Arctic Terns dive-bomb us as we pass through their territories so make sure you wear an old hat! The views of the myriad of seabirds in such close proximity are unrivaled anywhere and for those with a camera, any camera, the photo opportunities are only limited by the size of your memory card! You cannot fail to be amazed by this spectacular place. The Farne Islands are only a short boat ride from the mainland and we land on two of the islands so we have plenty of time to enjoy this unique experience.

We will also visit Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, just up the coast, another spectacular wild location that can produce amazing birds. It is an adventure just getting out to the island as the road is only passable at low tide. We will ensure our visit is perfectly-timed, so we can cross on to the island as the tide drops allowing us plenty of time to explore this beautiful wild place. Our main focus here will be to search for late migrants in the few trees, hedges and scattered bushes which provide a haven for tired birds such as warblers and Wheatears. Almost anything can and does turn up here and we will explore the area thoroughly to see what has dropped in. This is exciting birding as you just never know what might pop up next. Waders will be feeding on the extensive mudflats and Eider ducks and many seabirds will be just offshore.

With three full days in Northumberland to explore this wild area, we will also have time to visit some inland birding locations to add to the variety of species we enjoy during this special tour. These may well include grouse, raptors and breeding waders.

Plenty of noise and action on the Farne Islands!
Plenty of noise and action on the Farne Islands! (Alan Davies and Ruth Miller)

Day 1: Our tour starts (and ends) in Llandudno, North Wales. We make an early start as we travel over to the east coast of England in time for lunch and our first birdwatching at RSPB Saltholme. Guests are welcome to travel over with us from Llandudno or we can arrange to collect you en route from mutually agreed pick-up points along the way. After spending time exploring this lovely reserve with its impressive visitor centre and cafe, we travel north to our superb base for the trip in Northumberland. Evening meal and overnight in our comfortable hotel (4 nights).

Day 2: Weather permitting, we take a boat ride from Seahouses out to the Farne Islands. We will be able to disembark and spend most of the day visiting two separate islands (Staple Island and Inner Farne) to really get that up-close-and-personal seabird experience. These islands are managed by the National Trust and a warden is on hand to tell you more about the ecology of the islands. Each island has a very different feel to it and offers amazing encounters with different species. We will have the chance to spend around two hours on each island so plenty of time to explore and take lots of photographs – do bring your camera and a large memory card! The two main islands provide an important sanctuary for breeding seabirds and we have the chance look for up to 22 species of breeding seabirds during our day including Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Eider, four tern species: Arctic, Common, Sandwich and Roseate, and of course lots and lots of Puffins. This bird spectacle is unforgettable – after all, 70,000 Puffins can’t be wrong! We will take a picnic lunch with us to enjoy on the islands – don’t worry, there are bathroom facilities available on one of the islands too. The boat also sails round some of the further islands as well, so we can see more seabirds and seals too. Depending on the time of our return to the mainland, we will explore the coast around Seahouses before heading back to our comfortable hotel for a delicious evening meal and overnight.

Day 3: Today we visit another island but this time in the car as we drive across to Lindisfarne or Holy Island via the causeway at low tide. This beautiful and dramatic island can attract plenty of migrant species, so we will spend our day exploring the area in the hope that some late migrants may have dropped in. June has a reputation for turning up some exceptional rarities so fingers crossed that we might be lucky. Whatever the situation on the migrant front, there are always lots of birds to see here. Lunch will be taken in a lovely café in the area. On the mainland we will also have the chance to visit the beautiful beach at Bamburgh and other birdwatching locations along this stunning stretch of coastline. In the evening we will have a delicious evening meal and overnight in our comfortable hotel.

Dramatic Lindisfarne Castle
Dramatic Lindisfarne Castle (Alan Davies and Ruth Miller)

Day 4: For a change of scene, we will visit some of the forested and moorland areas that wild Northumberland has to offer. We will look for Red Grouse and with a good slice of luck we may encounter the much rarer Black Grouse. Breeding waders will also be high on our list to look for and could include Golden Plover, Common Snipe, Curlew and Common Redshank. We will also be keeping a sharp eye open for any raptors in this wild landscape. Of course, we will always be in touch with the latest bird news so we will have the opportunity to look for any special birds that may be the area. We will have lunch in a lovely café along the way. In the evening we will have a delicious evening meal and overnight in our comfortable hotel.

Please note that that the itinerary on Days 2, 3 and 4 may be switched around depending on the weather and tide conditions to make sure that you have the best possible experience on the trip.

Day 5: After breakfast, we head south towards RSPB Leighton Moss reserve in Lancashire where we will have time for some birdwatching and enjoy lunch in the excellent café here. Leighton Moss is a wonderful reserve with huge reedbeds and pools home to breeding Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits and lots of warblers. The relatively new Tower Hide gives a commanding view across the reserve, ideal for watching graceful Marsh Harriers hunting over the reeds and just possibly a Bittern flying to or from its nest! The feeders at the reserve near the café are always alive with birds and make for another great photo opportunity. In the afternoon we continue our journey south to Llandudno where our tour ends. Of course, if we have picked you up from mutually-agreed meeting points on Day 1, we will drop you back there as we return!

Beautiful unspoiled Bamburgh Beach
Beautiful unspoiled Bamburgh Beach (Alan Davies and Ruth Miller)

We will be looking for the following birds:
Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Fulmar, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Eider, Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Roseate Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Short-eared Owl, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Tree Pipit, Rock Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Dipper, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Goldcrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Marsh Tit, Raven, Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, and more including any rare or scarce birds that might be in the area at that time. Expect to see over 100 species!

Eye-to-eye views of Kittiwakes on the cliffs
Eye-to-eye views of Kittiwakes on the cliffs (Alan Davies and Ruth Miller)

What is included:

• Five days’ guided birdwatching with two guides, Alan and Ruth
• Four nights’ accommodation in comfortable ensuite twin or double rooms in our lovely hotel. Singles are available, but a single room supplement will be charged.
• All meals including breakfast, lunch and delicious evening meal from lunch on Day 1 through to lunch on Day 5, i.e. four breakfasts, five lunches and four two-course evening meals
• All soft drinks and tea/coffee with meals
• Sweets and snacks will be available at all times for those ‘in-between meal’ moments
• ‘All Day Birdwatch’ boat trip to visit two of the Farne Islands offered by Billy Shiels Boat Trips. This boat trip is £35 per person plus £27 landing fee per person for non-National Trust members and is included in your tour
• Entrance fees to all nature reserves
• Use of our field guides throughout the trip
• Use of our two top-of-the-range Leica telescopes throughout the trip
• Free loan of our top-of-the-range Leica binoculars throughout the trip – please let us know in advance if you would like to borrow a pair
• Individual checklist of the birds we will be looking for.

What is not included:

• Transport to/from Llandudno, North Wales or our mutually agreed pick-up points
• Alcoholic drinks and additional drinks/snacks not mentioned above
• Any additional excursions not mentioned above that you may wish to take
• Travel and medical insurance
• Items of a personal nature

Sedge Warbler poses for the camera
Sedge Warbler poses for the camera (Alan Davies and Ruth Miller)