Sunday, 30 November 2014

30th November: This month's peak bird counts

Selected peak bird counts from across the Reserve during the month of November:

Dark-bellied Brent goose: 186
Light-bellied Brent goose: 2629
Shelduck: 1171
Wigeon: 11601
Teal: 308
Pintail: 96
Eider: 313
Red-brested merganser: 108
Grey plover: 282
Dunlin: 1813
Bar-tailed godwit: 1545
Curlew: 578
Redshank: 396
Turnstone: 82

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

26th November: Redwings spotted

Earlier this week whilst out counting the cattle on the Reserve, several groups of Redwing were seen among the trees near Chare Ends, just before the village on Holy Island. There were around 30 birds in total, flitting between the trees. These birds are distinctive, similar to Fieldfares but with a bright orange-red flash under the wing. You may spot groups of these beautiful birds while visiting the Reserve.

Redwing at Lindisfarne (J. Dunn)

Redwing (Natural England, Flickr)

Friday, 21 November 2014

21st November: Fungal Foray

A team of keen fungi experts recently visited Lindisfarne NNR to search for and record the many species of fungi among the dunes and damp slacks.

Some of the more notable and striking species found include:

Clavulinopsis corniculata, "Meadow common fungus"

Hygrocybe conica, "Witch's hat fungus" - this is a species of waxcap that has become scarce in North Northumberland so to have a population on Lindisfarne NNR is fantastic.

Russula fragilis, common name "Fragile brittlegill"

A very small number of specimens were collected to get a better look at back at the Reserve base, and to allow the most accurate identification under a microscope. Remember to never touch any fungi when out on the Reserve or elsewhere in the countryside - they might be poisonous or rare.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

20th November: Gateshead Scout group

On Saturday 15th November, members of the 7th Gateshead Scouts group took a trip up to Lindisfarne NNR as part of a weekend stay in North Northumberland. Reserve staff led the group around the Reserve while explaining more about how the NNR team protect the unique habitats here. The group were very keen to learn about the fascinating wildlife of the dunes and mudflats, particular highlights included  grey seal spotting at Emmanuel Head and birdwatching at the Lough. The group was excited to see winter birds such as Teal and Goldeneye here, they even spotted some Reed Buntings among the Lough vegetation.

Having fun seal-watching using a spotting scope off Emmanuel Head

Monday, 17 November 2014

17th November: Seagrass - a vital food source

Seagrass, also called eelgrass, is a primary food source for geese around Lindisfarne including the Light-bellied Brent goose. Seagrass grows throughout the mudflats of Lindisfarne NNR, which boasts the most extensive seagrass beds in the Northeast of England. This is one of the main reasons why half of the world population of Light-bellied Brent geese (Spitzbergen race) choose to spend their winter here.

There are two main species of seagrass found at Lindisfarne NNR, Zostera angustifolia and Zostera noltii. Here are photos of these species of seagrass on the NNR's mudflats, showing that they are not just an empty expanse of sticky intertidal mud but a vital resource for wildlife of the Reserve.

Z. angustifolia

Z. noltii

Thursday, 13 November 2014

13th November: Birds at the Lough

Now is a great time to visit the Lough on Holy Island, where you will find a bird hide overlooking this freshwater pool. Wintering ducks such as teal, mallard and goldeneye can be spotted, with smaller birds like reed bunting among the vegetation at the edges of the Lough. Natural Eng;and manage the Lough and recent;y cut back some of the vegetation to open up the pool.

Some birds you have a good chance of spotting:



Male reed bunting

Monday, 10 November 2014

10th November: The Grey Seal

Always a great attraction for families, Lindisfarne NNR is a fantastic place to see this large marine animal. From the Lookout on Wild Lindisfarne, on the site of the old coastguard tower overlooking the priory, you can often see large groups of them hauled out on the sandbars at low tide. This is a great way to view them and listen to their 'haunting' calls.

A group of grey seals

The most recent count of grey seals across the NNR found 3500 - a huge number! Their numbers have steadily been increasing each year here.

The grey seals are busy breeding on the Farne Islands NNR at the moment, however many can still be seen at Lindisfarne. The pups will begin to leave the colonies in December. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

6th Nov: Sheep update

The 22 sheep have been having a good chew on parts of the Snook over the last month, in fact the grazing regime for this section is well ahead of schedule for the winter. They have grazed 2 'blocks' among the dunes so far and were moved to their third enclosure this morning.

You can see a huge difference between the two plots in the above photo, taken before we moved the sheep over to their new, grassier enclosure.