This film is part of Free

Bird Sanctuary

You don't have to be an ornithologist to enjoy this playful documentary about the Farne Islands' avian population

Documentary 1936 18 mins


Views of cute ducklings waddling out to sea and kittiwakes nesting on jagged cliffsides are just some of the visual highlights of this documentary about the birds of the Farne Islands. It was intended for use as a teaching aide in schools, and the commentary is appropriately spirited and humorous. Gulls are labelled the "villains of the island", while puffins are called "ridiculous-looking".

This work involved two key players in Gaumont-British's educational films of the 1930s. Director Mary Field made her name in school films about biology and history, and cameraman Oliver Pike was a pioneer in natural history photography and cinematography, renowned for capturing seldom-seen animal behaviour. These particular shots were taken on an uninhabited island group which remains a sanctuary today.