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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 29 July 2006
Listen to this programme in full
Farne Islands: Part 1 of 2
This week Helen Mark witnesses a wildlife spectacular on the Farne Islands. Jutting out of the North Sea at the end of the Whin Sill, the Inner and Outer Farnes lie off the coast of Northumberland between Seahouses and Bamburgh, and during the summer season their sheer rock faces are home to over 400,000 seabirds.

For the eight National Trust wardens who spend nine months of each year resident there, it's a back-to-basics existence with no running water or mains electricity, but their busy lives include welcoming visitors (Staple Island is open in the morning, Inner Farne in the afternoon) and carrying out extensive research into the seals and seabird colonies.

Puffins, Guillemots, ArcticTern, Kittiwake. Fulmars, Shags, Gulls and Cormorants swirl constantly overhead and provide an unforgettable visual and audio experience. In the first of two programmes Helen meets:

David Steel, National Trust Head Warden of the Farne Islands, who has spent a record six years on the islands, including a nervous 17-day period when he and a colleague were stranded by storms on Brownsman, one of the Outer Farnes. 
National Trust information on Farne Islands

Rev Adrian Hughes, a keen ornithologist who last year spent a month on the islands working alongside the wardens and reflecting on the life of St Cuthbert. This key historical figure of the North East spent ten years alone in the hostile environment of the Inner Farne in the 7th century.

Alistair Anderson, internationally know musician, who gives a musical rendition of his composition "Inner Farne" on the Northumbrian pipes with the seabirds and the sounds of the waves as accompanists. 
Alistair Anderson's Folksworks website

Ann Wilson, another local person who knows the islands well, and who has visited the islands over 200 times. She tells about the persecution of the birds and seals in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, which drastically reduced numbers, yet, thanks to the efforts of a handful of visionaries the wildlife on the islands was protected just in time. 
The Natural History Society of Northumbria

BBC Tyne: Puffins on the Farne Islands gallery

Farne Islands: Programme Two
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