We've had a few days away visiting our daughter and baby granddaughter up in the North East but it's nice to be home.
One of the first things our daughter said to us was "Do you fancy going on a boat trip?" It seems as if we just can't get away from boats and water.
This boat was just a bit bigger than we're used to though and the trip was out to the Farne Islands to see the Grey seals and their pups as it's calving time.
The islands are 2 - 3 miles off the Northumberland coast with the boat trips leaving from Seahouses and lasting an hour and a half. Once we got out of the harbour the sea was quite rough and the boat rocked and lurched a lot but we found it exhilarating and stayed up at the bow for the whole trip.
This is the only inhabited island. The National Trust Rangers live here for 10 months of the year and look after the seal pups in the Autumn.
This is Longstone Lighthouse. It was made famous in 1838 when Grace Darling and her father rescued 9 survivors from the paddle steam ship Forfarshire which ran aground in stormy seas.
The Farne Islands are one of the major sanctuaries in the UK for breeding sea birds. During the nesting season there are 20 different species of breeding sea birds here, including Guillemots, Eider Ducks, Shags, Terns and over 70 thousand Puffins. (Can you tell I paid attention to the commentary?)
You can tell how many birds must nest here each year by the amount of guano pooped down the cliffs.
There are between 3 - 4 thousand grey seals at the Farne Islands with about a thousand pups born each year. Unfortunately the mortality rate is very high and around a third of the pups die.
This huge bull seal was basking in the sunshine.
The newly born pups are counted every day and marked with a coloured dye. The tiny white ones marked with green in this photo had been born the previous day. We saw a few marked with orange that had been born that morning. They looked so vulnerable laid on the rocks.
There were plenty of seals in the water, playing in the surf and following the boat and at times weren't totally sure who was watching who.
The boat trip was so good we're going to try and do it again in the nesting season as I'd really like to see the Puffins.