Landing access to the Farne Islands to be restricted in efforts to protect precious seabird colonies
The National Trust has announced that visitors won’t be able to land on the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, at the start of the 2023 season due to fears that Avian Influenza (bird flu) will rip through the seabird colonies once more.
Last year, while the islands were off limits to wildlife enthusiasts, rangers contributed to national monitoring and research into the impacts of bird flu on the breeding populations and removed over 6,000 carcasses of birds killed by the virus. Seabirds including the Guillemot and Kittiwake were impacted the most, with 3,542 and 818 respectively, thought to have perished due to the disease. These numbers are thought to be just the tip of the iceberg as many dead birds in the densely packed cliff colonies will have fallen into the sea.
With the virus persisting in the environment and now impacting wintering birds on both the Islands and mainland UK, the conservation charity believes it is prudent to restrict access to visitors seeking to land on Inner Farne and Staple islands. Sail around tours of the islands offered by local boat operators will continue to run.
The decision has been taken ahead of the main breeding season which will see species such as puffins, guillemots, and arctic terns returning to nest.
National Trust rangers will continue to manage vegetation and improve nesting habitat on the islands to ensure the birds have the best opportunity to breed successfully. They will also monitor the various bird species to understand how many have retuned, the numbers of breeding pairs and how many chicks fledge.
While visitors are unable to land the Islands, local boat companies continue to offer a range of sail around tours for visitors to experience the magical nature and marine life around the Farne Islands.
Billy Shiel Farne Islands Boats trips is a family business which has been operating trips to the Farne Islands and Holy Island since 1918. The company offer a range of tours and cruises, including a 2-hour Puffin Seabird cruise, and 1.5-hour Grey Seal cruise, as well as a diving and snorkelling trips for those who are a little more adventurous.
Serenity Farne Islands boat tours, based in Seahouses will be operating a variety of tours to accommodate visitors who wish to see the spectacular wildlife of the Farne Islands from the seaward side. These trips will include longer sailings for photographers as well as our regular cruises around the Farne Islands.
Golden Gate offer a variety of sail around tours, and also offer landing trips to Longstone to visit the lighthouse.
For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/farne-islands