Puffin Run 5 - June 2012
Write-up by David Brennan
The rain was bouncing up off the ground when we left Newcastle, and the forecast wasn't to change for the better. For the first time I was worried that the "Puffin Run" may be a non-starter, however, by the time everyone arrived Seahouses, I already knew that, although it would be delayed, we were heading out. Unfortunately, Staple Island had already been closed off so the main area for close-up puffin shots was gone. As we had just over an hour to kill before we could get away, some went for a coffee while others took up the opportunity of an extra hour to photograph the area.
By the time Glad Tidings II left Seahouses harbour, there were patches of blue sky, but the usual calm crossing was a bit wilder than normal. However, none of that stopped the machine gun fire of shutters when the first seals appeared to see what was disturbing their snoozing. The next 90 minutes or so were taken up by a trip around all the islands and coves, with a excellent commentary from William Shiels, our skipper for the day, pointing out the history of the islands and identifying all the types of birds. All through the trip only a slight drizzle threatened to deliver the rain that had been forecast, but by the time we landed on Inner Farne (and prepared to run the gauntlet of the Arctic Tern) everyone was still dry.
The next 2 and a half hours were spent dodging the terns, trying to photograph puffins in flight, and trying not to get blown off the cliff edge at the points where viewing platforms are right next to vertical drops. A couple of heavy showers had a few people running for shelter, but for the majority of the "Runners", it just meant getting out the waterproof covers so they could continue shooting. However, 10 minutes before we were due to leave, the forecast finally caught up with us and the heavens opened. I think at that point many had already decided to start to pack up and took the downpour as a sign to head for shelter in St Cuthberts Chapel. Once everyone had dried off and packed their kit, we headed back to the boat just as the rain eased up again, and took a slightly slower trip back to Seahouses, with the boat taking many a dip, which those at the front felt, as the spray shot over the edges and down open coat necks.