Wednesday, 1 June 2016


As another miserable day of heavy winds and drizzling rain sets in, and the islands are once again closed by the inclement weather, it feels like the perfect time to introduce the ranger team for the 2016 season.
It may seem a little late, given that we moved out here in March, but we’ve been busy blogging about Bluethroats and breeding birds. Introductions can wait when there are so many wildlife highlights to share! But as spring fades away and migration slows down, we finally have the chance. So, with no further ado, meet the team…
Lana Blakely and Ed Tooth, Rangers
Having both spent time on the East-Anglian coast with the RSPB, Ed and Lana began life on the Farnes in 2014, and have been drawn back ever since. Now into their third season and still loving every minute, you will find Ed looking after the outer group and Lana looking after the inner group. They both share a love for Fulmars, world birding and have occasionally been known to twitch rare birds in the UK!
Tom Hibbert, Assistant Ranger
With an Ocean Sciences degree from Bangor University and a background in seabird monitoring, Tom is obsessed with all things feathered. Despite having spent three months measuring turtles and ringing tropicbirds in the Seychelles, Tom is happiest when studying British seabirds. So naturally he was delighted to return for his second season as Assistant Ranger on the Farne Islands.

Sarah Lawrence, Assistant Ranger
Since graduating from Exeter University, Sarah volunteered at ZSL and collected cetacean photo-ID in Iceland before moving to Ísafjörđur to complete her Master’s degree in Coastal and Marine Management. Having spent a season monitoring seabirds on Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides, Sarah is looking forward to experiencing a season on the Farnes.
Diana Guglielmotti, Assistant Ranger
Previously an environmental law trainee, Diana decided to take the leap and transform her passion for conservation into a career. After volunteering and working with seabirds in the far north of Scotland, Diana decided to experience life on the Farne Islands.
Jen Clark, Assistant Ranger
Jen’s love for conservation started when studying Zoology at the University of Glasgow. After graduating Jen spent five years at the RSPB, first on the Somerset Levels showcasing Starling murmurations, then safeguarding the world famous Osprey nest at Loch Garten. Her last stint with the RSPB was on Islay, surveying Chough and counting geese, before returning to the Cairngorms to join the Scottish Wildcat Action team for the winter survey season.  Although at home in the hills, either mountain biking or hiking, Jen is thrilled to swap the trees and mountains of the Cairngorms for the remote island life of the Farnes.
Philippa Pearson, Assistant Ranger
Pip undertook a ten-month traineeship with Durham Wildlife Trust’s Wildground Project, covering a wide range of conservation and habitat management skills with a focus on wildlife friendly grounds maintenance. On the traineeship she achieved a level 2 Diploma in Practical Environmental Conservation Skills. This is her first time working in a coastal environment.
Sophia Jackson, Assistant Ranger
Sophia graduated from Aberystwyth University in 2013, where she studied Environmental Science. Since then she has worked at various seabird colonies around Britain and is finding working and living amongst all the seabirds on the Farne Islands a spectacular experience. Her other main interest also has wings; bats. Sophia surveys and analyses these little creatures of the night. Swimming is her main sports hobby, although she has only gone for one swim off the Farnes so far this year.
Dan Iceton, Assistant Ranger
After graduating from the University of Sheffield in 2014 with an MSc in Zoology, Dan volunteered as a trainee ranger with the National Trust. This led to his job with the Farne Islands team working on Staple island. Swimming is his main sporting interest, and he is hoping to swim off the Farnes as often as possible this summer. Dan has always had a great interest in wildlife and the outdoors, especially the Northumberland coast, making the Farne Islands the perfect place to live and work.
Charlotte Altass, Assistant Ranger
Charlotte joined the Farnes’ ranger team following a BSc in Animal Behaviour in 2014, and an MSc in Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology from Aberdeen in 2015. Her thesis focussed on the Eider population of the Ythan Estuary, tapping into her interest in seabirds. Outside of university, Charlotte volunteered with the charity Marine Life for several years, assisting with vessel based surveys around the Northumberland coast. Following her MSc, she spent a month offshore helping out on fisheries research surveys with the Scottish government, as well as undertaking more seabird and cetacean surveys around the UK coast, and even travelling further afield to Norway and Sweden.
Harriet Reid, Assistant Ranger
To live on a remote island requires a certain amount of eccentricity, and no ranger represents this more than Harriet. But even whilst she is making noises, pulling silly expressions or randomly singing she is obsessed with nature, trying to understand and experience as much as possible. Her love of immersing herself in her surroundings has led to time spent volunteering at Spurn Point, Yorkshire, and working at the Long Nanny Little Tern site near Beadnell, where rangers camp in the dunes. Her degree is in marine biology, so working on an island covered in breeding seabirds, surrounded by the sea, is ideal. Harriet also enjoys kayaking, Scuba diving, badminton and driving the islands’ Zodiac boat.
Tom Hendry, Assistant Ranger
Tom has a passion for all wildlife and habitats, but he adores seabirds and has previously worked to monitor and protect seabird colonies in Northumberland and the Mediterranean. After studying for a degree in Environmental Management, he volunteered in Iceland, Hungary and sub-Arctic Canada, performing conservation work, before working with Birdlife Malta and the National Trust. He has visited the Farnes from an early age and has loved its rugged landscapes and iconic birds ever since. Living here is something of a dream come true, and Tom is excited to work with the diverse array of seabirds that call the islands home throughout the summer.
So that’s our team! A great eclectic mix of backgrounds and experience, united by a love of nature and a passion for sharing and conserving it. But it wouldn’t be fitting for a Farnes blog to have no mention of birds at all; the sightings log may not have been bursting from its binder these last few weeks, but there have been a few highlights.
After the disappearance of the last Bluethroat, the islands were plunged into a quiet spell for passerines, finally broken by a Common Rosefinch that dropped from the sky to land on Brownsman on the 25thMay. The Rosefinch lingered (often elusively) until the 29th, when it was joined by two Red-backed Shrike! This pair of beauties commuted between Brownsman and Staple throughout the morning, allowing them to be admired by both visitors and rangers alike.
Other interesting records from this relatively quiet period include Great Northern Diver, Manx Shearwater, Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Sanderling, Short-eared Owl, Wheatear and Gadwall (a pair of which were seen on Inner Farne pond for the second time this season, which is incredible for this less than annual visitor!). We’ve also had our first Roseate Tern sighting of the season, with the occasional bird now appearing amongst the large roost on Inner Farne.
Speaking of terns, all three of our breeding species (Arctic, Common and Sandwich) are now incubating eggs. The courtyard of Inner Farne is once again covered in nests, so if you are visiting please be careful where you walk and remember your hat – it protects your head from both ends of a protective parent!

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