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A Trip to the Farne Islands

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Off the coast of northeast England lies an archipelago of 16-28 islands (depending on the tide). Owned and protected by the British National Trust, the Farne Islands host 100,000 pairs of breeding seabirds, including more than 23 species. It is also home to one of Europe's largest grey seal colonies: About 4,000 adults give birth to 1,500 pups every autumn. Every five years, the National Trust carries out a census of the islands' population of puffins, and last year's survey showed there were almost 40,000 nesting pairs on the islands--an 8 percent rise from 2008. [28 photos]

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A Puffin returns to its nest with a beak full of sand eels on Inner Farne, England, on June 25, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A Puffin returns to its nest with a beak full of sand eels on Inner Farne, England, on June 25, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Visitors get a close up encounter of nesting Guillemots on the cliff faces off Inner Farne, on June 24, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
A young grey seal, on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast near Seahouses, northern England, on November 18 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
A view of Inner Farne, part of the Farne Islands, on July 19, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
An Arctic Tern dives down to protect its nest on Inner Farne, on June 24, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
Members of the public take pictures as they visit the Farne Islands where Puffins are returning to their summer breeding grounds, on May 16, 2013 in the Farne Islands, England. A census is carried out every five years with the last one in 2008 recording 36,500 pairs of puffins. The Farne Islands, offer good protection for the birds to nest, providing excellent sources of food, and few ground predators, despite this rangers fear that the extreme winter could impact on breeding numbers. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #
Puffins return to their summer breeding grounds on the Farne Islands, on May 16, 2013. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #
Puffins carry sand eels for their young off the Northumberland coast, northern England, on July 8, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
A gull forces a puffin to drop its sand eels on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, northern England, on July 8, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
National Trust rangers Will Scott, David Kinchin Smith, Samantha Morgan and Laura Shearer put their hands into Puffin nests during a census on the Farne Islands, on May 16, 2013. Every five years the National Trust carries out a census of the islands' population of puffins, and this year's survey showed there were almost 40,000 nesting pairs on the islands - an 8 percent rise from 2008. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #
National Trust ranger Will Scott holds a Puffin during a census on the Farne Islands, on May 16, 2013. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #
Head ranger David Steel sprays a seal pup with pigment so that it can be counted as part of a census on Brownsman Island, part of the Farne Islands, on November 18, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
A female grey seal protects her pup from another female on the Farne Islands, on November 18 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
A warden walks through a breeding colony of Arctic Terns on June 24, 2011 on Inner Farne, England. Visitors to the Farne Islands are pre-warned and advised to wear hats to protect themselves from the Terns who will dive down and attack anyone they perceive as a threat to their nest. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
An Arctic Tern pecks a mans head as he walks through nesting seabirds on Inner Farne, on June 25, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
A shag protects its young on the Farne Islands, on July 8, 2013. Shags are the largest of the seabirds that breed on the islands. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
Ranger's hats, covered in bird droppings, hang in their living quarters on the Farne Islands, on November 18, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
A Grey Seal comes for a closer look at a group of divers on June 25, 2011 off the Farne Islands. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
Soft corals and Sea Urchins crowd an outcrop off Inner Farne, on June 25, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
A guillemot swims underwater by the Farne Islands, on July 19, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
A lobster blends into a rock face on June 25, 2011 off Inner Farne, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
Grey seals play underwater by the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, on November 17 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
A Puffin stands on a clifftop on Inner Farne, on June 24, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
Puffins return to their summer breeding grounds on the Farne Islands as National Trust rangers carry out a Puffin census, on May 16, 2013. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #
A Puffin flaps its wings near its burrow on a clifftop on Inner Farne, on June 24, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
Members of the public travel by boat from the Farne Islands where Puffins are returning to their summer breeding grounds, on May 16, 2013. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) #
An Arctic Tern flies above the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast near Seahouses, northern England, on July 8, 2013. (Reuters/Nigel Roddis) #
Clouds fill the night sky over Inner Farne, on June 25, 2011. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #

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