Foraging shags and pair bonding is beguiling. Birds fly in bearing swags of seaweed as offerings to mates who weave it all into the fabric of their nests: sea-weed, sea campion, blue rope and an unwieldy chair leg. To keep us safe steel cable is anchored above the cliff, staked with metal posts. It protects us from the vertiginous drop as we peer down the cliff face. Shags nest almost beneath the cable, right at our feet. Some have fledglings, reptilian looking creatures. And sometimes eggs peep from beneath the brooding bird. There are parties of school children wholly engrossed in the sea-birds, as we are. I bet they’ll remember this day. I know I will.
As visitor numbers to the Farnes has increased, so site designation has changed to recognise international importance. Visitor management is key. I’m revelling in the Farne Islands and reflecting on this balance: site designation and the protection it affords wildlife, visitor management. This has been and continues to be my theme, in my concern for Scout Scar and in exploring how all this takes effect in locations across Cumbria.
Taking photographs and video, I come home with the sound of the sea and the cries of sea birds to remind me of a very special experience.