|Staple Island, Farne Islands, Northumberland, England|
We set sail on Billy Shiel's Glad Tidings IV on a two-stop voyage to the Farne Islands, disembarking at Staple Island and Inner Farne. Our vessel was crammed with photographers, each trying to outdo the other with the size of their telephoto lenses. Collectively we had one aim: to see and photograph the puffins. For those less star-struck, there were also a few thousand terns, guillemots, shags and kittiwakes to observe.
As we neared the islands, increasing numbers of birds began to plop into the water, streaks of puffins criss-crossed the sky in mechanical flight, and the entire landscape fizzed with creatures energetically going about their business.
Hopping onto Staple Island, we were thrust among the nesting seabirds – a low rope fence being their only protection. You couldn't get closer to a wild animal without holding one. Every colour, texture and marking was apparent as they preened, ate, built nests, took-off, and landed right in front of us. Undoubtedly the Farne Islands are a paradise for photographers as much as for birds.
Staple Island is in the Top 10... for being home to one of the most extraordinary wildlife experiences in Britain.