Snorkelling in the Farne Islands

Thursday morning was spent feeling very seasick on a boat, but also getting the chance to snorkel in the Farne Islands – surrounded by seals! The weather wasn’t too great, but thankfully we only got a sprinkling of rain throughout the trip. I’ve never really gotten seasick, but staying in one place on a boat on choppy water really wasn’t good for my head/stomach!

Anyway, as we travelled to the islands, I was amazed by the sight of so many birds. They were everywhere! We dropped half of the group off at one island, and then headed to a different one for us snorkellers. I’d love to tell you which islands, but I cannot remember at all. I got to see my first ever Puffins and Guillemots from the boat, so all was good! I wish I could have gone onto the land and photographed the birds close up, but when booking, I decided that the snorkelling was really something that I probably wouldn’t get to do again. I took the opportunity! We also got a first glimpse of a seal…

Getting ready to jump into the water, I was pretty terrified. Having never dived before, and only snorkelled in nice, hot and sunny countries, this would be my first time in freezing cold british waters. Scary! It wasn’t that bad actually. The jump was a shock, but thanks to the wetsuit my body surprisingly wasn’t really cold. My hands however were freezing! We swam for a good few metres before stopping in the shallower bits, near to the land. So many seals were out of the water, and so many were swimming around and underneath us. They didn’t come too close, but we could see them very clearly! I’ve made a little (pretty bad!) video of the day, so you can see some underwater seal shots!

Don’t forget to watch in HD!

Snorkelling in the Farne Islands from Katie Halsall on Vimeo.

When we got out, we travelled back to the first island to pick up the ITV guys, and then headed back for another snorkel session. I was so cold after getting out, that I didn’t go back in. I wish I had, but in that moment I just felt so cold and soooo seasick. Getting into the water may have helped, but it didn’t feel like it would! I just took photographs from the boat instead, drank tea to warm up and huddled in a big brown windproof jacket…

Our final stop was part of the water where you could see birds diving underwater, and I didn’t go in then either. This one I really wish I’d just pushed myself to do it. How often to you get to see birds diving and properly swimming under water?! Ah, well maybe it means I will have to do it again!

Overall, it was an incredible day and I’m so glad we got the opportunity. It was amazing to be swimming in the sea, with actual seals swimming around us. Definitely something I’ll remember for a long while!

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Walking along the river.

Yesterday I decided to go for a walk along the stretch of the River Petteril nearest to my flat to see what I could find. I had a pretty good day, and spotted 12 different bird species! The only one I didn’t photograph was the kingfisher, as I only saw the flash of blue flying away down the river! Definitely an interesting couple of hours!

Tree Creeper


Female Blackbird – Also saw plenty of males!

Grey Wagtail



Blue Tit

Grey Heron

Long Tailed Tit


House Sparrow

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Finding Fungi

In the past week I have been out taking photographs for my current On Location project, and I’ve spotted plenty of mushrooms along the way! I’ve never really photographed them much previously as I always seem to miss the time period when they are around. I love using macro though so it was great to get some close-up shots and to play around! I think they’re fascinating!

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When out taking photographs for my On Location project I spotted these snails in crack in a wall. I’m thinking that these are hibernating? (Which does seem a little early to me – especially seeing as it hasn’t been that cold at all!) Maybe they are dead shells though? Isn’t it strange that there are so many in this narrow gap in the wall? What do you think? Internet searches have failed me – most of what I can find is talking about snails being garden pests and tips on getting rid of them!

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Welcome to Year 3.

It has been a couple of months since I updated this blog, and I would love to say that it was a great 2 months filled with wildlife and being outdoors, however I have been working in a shop all summer trying to save up for my final year of university! Now that I am back, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things and posting my photography updates on here.

Third year so far is a little daunting, and although I’m looking forward to starting on the work I’m also a little scared! We’ve got some good modules this year and I’m looking forward to doing all the planning/research before creating my final pieces.

Just a little update before all the real work starts! Here are some photos that I took earlier this Spring/Summer and just haven’t posted…

And a little video of the juvenile dippers that I saw when doing my last media project!

Hopefully I’ll have a little more to write about on here now university has started again and I need to get out and take photographs!

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Searching for a kingfisher.

Climbing out of the car, I headed towards the footpath and away from the main road. Less than a minute of walking brought me away from civilisation, and into a colourful meadow, buzzing with life. Bright flowers could be seen in every direction; bees steadily making their way around, dipping into the sweet nectar on offer. Butterflies flitted around the meadow and, upon closer inspection, lots of little insects darted between the grasses.

Making my way through the tall vegetation, spiders scuttled away from my feet as I headed towards the river. Once out of the meadow, I was surrounded by trees. Bird calls were louder and more frequent here, the high pitched warning of an intruder ringing in my ears. I walked quietly and slowly, looking into the trees along the riverbank, hoping that the birds would get used to my presence. My goal? To find a kingfisher. I had seen the striking, blue bird twice before – both times, the bird simply being a flash of blue as it flew past me and down a river. I had heard that there was a resident kingfisher here, and had seen many photographs from other people. Having had no luck on my first visit, I was hoping this would be the special one.

As I neared ‘Kingfisher Gate’, something caught my eye. Sitting on a small branch, hanging over the river, was a very plump looking object. I snapped a quick photo, realising that yes, it was a kingfisher!

Slowing down, I kept my eye on the bird as I made my way around a huge bush, hoping that I would get a better view from the other side. I was not disappointed! This bird was eyeing me, though not showing any signs of distress, as I made my way forwards getting as close the the river’s edge as possible. I sat down, pushing vegetation out of my way so I could get a clear view. Sitting still, I watched and happily snapped away, not believing my luck. I believe it was a juvenile, though possibly on the older end of the scale! Whilst it’s coat was a lovely, bright blue, it’s feet were very dull and you could just see a little white on the end of it’s beak – both signs of a young kingfisher.

The sound of small feet padding along the floor disrupted the silence, and the kingfisher flew high up into the trees. Once the dog had passed, I spotted the kingfisher again, this time nearer and easier to photograph. I managed to watch for a little longer, before it decided to move on and settle somewhere else.

Wandering back down the river, and towards the meadow again, I reflected on just how lucky I had been. I did not expect it to be so easy. Coming home from university for the summer, and hearing about this place, I had set myself a goal to photograph a kingfisher. It is June, and that goal is complete! Now I will just have to go back, again and again, in the hopes of getting to watch more behaviours and capturing them. Until next time…

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