Wednesday, 21 February 2018

February- Launch of the Reserve’s New Events Programme

February may have been cold but it was full steam ahead on the reserve! We undertook beach cleans at the far north of the reserve, Goswick Black Rocks (supported by Coast Care), and to the far south at Budle Bay. Half term was busy, as expected on Holy Island, despite the inclement weather. We celebrated our love of birds on Valentine’s Day and continued the theme of ‘Love Bids’ for 4 days. We spent time with around 330 visitors, highlighting the wonderful array of wildlife that inhabit the reserve.

Photo courtesy of Lindisfarne NNR volunteer, ©Ceris Aston. 

We provided binoculars, telescopes and identification advice for the watching of birds on the Rocket field. Additionally, we enjoyed bird crafts and games designed to educate visitors of all ages about the resident and migratory birds of Lindisfarne. All of the activities were focused on key conservation issues and how visitors can help to support the protection of vulnerable species across the reserve.

Photo courtesy of Lindisfarne NNR volunteer, ©Ceris Aston.

For information regarding upcoming events contact the Reserve Manager:

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Cetacean & Sea Bird Survey

After the snow, sleet and ice of recent weeks, it came as a relief to be welcomed by blue skies and sunshine for the cetacean and bird survey last Thursday. Eleven volunteers gathered in the hopes of spotting whales or dolphins off the eastern rocky shore of the reserve, in an event organised by Coast Care and Natural England.
Photo © Anna Chouler (Coast Care)

Sporting binoculars and telescopes and well bundled up in layers, we separated into pairs and perched at intervals along the coast. Partner One scanned the sea for ten minutes, in slow steady sweeps, while Partner Two sat poised, pencil and clipboard at the ready for the call – any moment now - ‘Dolphins at two o’clock!’ Every ten minutes, we alternated.
Photo © Anna Chouler (Coast Care)

My partner Philip, who took part in the cetacean identification training earlier in the week, shared some of his newfound knowledge. The four species we were most likely to spot in Northumberland were the bottlenose dolphin, the harbour porpoise, the white-beaked dolphin and the minke whale. The harbour porpoise is the smallest of our local cetaceans and have more triangular and less curved fins than the other three. Different sizes are hard to make out through binoculars and against a backdrop of sea. Bottlenose dolphins will attack harbour porpoises (savages with a smile). White-beaked dolphins are rarely seen near shore waters – locally, they are resident at Farnes’ Deep. On our shared clipboard we had a handout with pictures and descriptions of UK cetaceans. We were ready.
Me in action!

Photo © Anna Chouler (Coast Care)

Over the next two and a half hours, we discovered several things that can appear suspiciously like cetacean dorsal fins to the hopeful eye, including rocks, birds and buoys. We did not, however, spot any actual whales or dolphins. And this, it seems, is the common experience amongst cetacean spotters. Oh whale.*

It would be hard to complain. Sitting by the sea on a bright clear day, with views of Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands, it felt as though any cetaceans would have been a mere bonus. The sea and skies were far from empty, with bird sightings to delight both the birder and the novice. Dark-bellied Brent geese flew low, and settled to eat on the shoreline; oystercatchers strode through the shallows, then skimmed the water as they moved onwards; a tall heron waited; curlews waded and called their names; and a group of huddled golden plovers baffled the non-birders until expert David helped us out.
Dark-bellied Brent geese as they flew over the surveyors
Photo © Anna Chouler (Coast Care)

As far as cetacean surveying events without any cetaceans go, it was a good one. And who knows? – maybe next time.

Tips for a cetacean survey:

  • Bring binoculars and scan the water slowly
  • Dress for the weather
  • The best time for cetacean watches In the North Sea is March-June  

  • Look for a day that is overcast and not too sunny – else sunlight will reflect on the water
  • Hope for calm seas
  • Watch out for feeding birds – cetaceans are often found in the same areas of sea
  • Don’t expect to see anything – but enjoy it if you do
  • More information on cetacean spotting at ORCA
*I couldn’t resist the pun. It was on porpoise.
Blog entry By Ceris Aston (Lindisfarne NNR Volunteer)

Friday, 29 December 2017

Egrets and Herons

Keen observers will have no doubt noticed the arrival in recent years of a small white heron, the Little Egret, on the Northumberland Coast. Now regarded as an established breeding bird much on the increase, it will require considerable research in order to establish any impacts of this new predator of fish and invertebrates on wetland and coastal areas. It is clear that the grey Heron has a slightly different hunting strategy, quiet stealth, an angled motionless poise then an explosive stab at the fish below.

Grey Heron

The Little Egret is a much more energetic hunter, chasing prey around in rock pools, raising wings to flush prey, or vigorously wiggling bright yellow feet to uncover the contents of the mud.
Little Egret

Though frequently mobbed by gulls and crows, other small waders and ducks are less troubled by feeding proximity to the Little Egret, however, they stay clear from the Grey Heron.
Little Egret & Black-Headed Gull
Blog Entry by a Lindisfarne NNR Volunteer.

There are several bird hides across the reserve including one fresh water hide at the Lough on Holy Island. Other hides look out onto coastal habitats at Fenham-le-Moor and Elwick. A new viewing platform has also been a commissioned for Budle Bay, this will be installed in 2018. For optimal bird watching experiences, wear natural coloured clothing rather than bright, vibrant outerwear, keep noise disturbance to a minimum, watch on a rising tide as this draws the birds closer to the observer….and enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

November 2017-Panoramic Veiw of Budle Bay Flats

Panoramic Views from the White Railings

The white railings by the road north after Bamburgh provide panoramic views of Budle Bay mudflats.

Image 1: Budle Bay ©JJD

A wide array of bird life can be seen at all stages of the tide as it ebbs and flows from this vantage point. Binoculars or better still a telescope will enable good views of birds that make use of this precious ecological resource.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, outdoor and nature
Image 2: Enthusiasts watching birds on the mudflats of Budle Bay during one of the organised ‘Migratory Bird Watch’ events ©Natural England/Annie Ivison

The best time to see birds here is throughout the autumn and winter months, when resident birds are joined by migrant geese, swans, ducks and waders, sometimes in huge numbers.

Image 3: A Mute swan on the waters of the reserve ©JJD
Image 4: A Curlew wading the mud ©JJD
Image 5: Light-bellied Brent geese from the Svalbard population feeding on seagrasses that are abundant across the mudflats at Fenham and Budle Bay ©JJD                    

Being adjacent to the North Sea coast, hard weather on continental Europe can result in even greater numbers of avian visitors

Birds to look out for are Shovellers and Pintail, among flocks of Wigeon, Teal and Mallard.
At high tide, Glavonian and Red-throated Diver are frequently spotted, fishing the deeper river channels.

Blog written by an NNR volunteer

Birds at Budle Bay should be observed from behind the railings, ideally on a rising tide, which will draw the birds closer to the observer.

Plans are underway to build a new viewing platform at Budle Bay, this will provide an excellent space for viewing birds without disturbing this space!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

longterm monitoring network at the Lindisfarne NNR II

The long term monitoring network at the Lindisfarne NNR continues.

Liz shows the group how to identify grasses as part of the LTMN training.

The group gets stuck in identifying common grasses such as Marram grass, Crested-Dog's tail and Quaking grass.

what is this one?

Monday, 17 July 2017

longterm monitoring network at the Lindisfarne NNR

Day one at lindisfarne.17th June 2017

Everyone is meeting at the NNR office before going out for a bit of training and then starting the survey in earnest.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Graftas Awards 2017: the Lindisfarne NNR volunteer team won

Every year Natural England has the Graftas Awards to recognise individuals or teams who deserve recognition. There were 177 nominations this time.
The event was held at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes

This year, in the team volunteer category, the Lindisfarne NNR volunteer team won!


Congratulations, everyone.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Long Term Monitoring Vegetation Surveys at Lindisfarne NNR

Every five years a team of Natural England Staff and NNR volunteers descend on the Lindisfarne NNR to survey the fascinating and special vegetation in the dunes as part of the larger Long Term Monitoring Vegetation Surveys carried out throughout the country.

In preparation for this survey, staff at the NNR have been locating the old previous markers and replacing missing markers for the 50 quadrats that need to be surveyed.

Hunting in the dunes slacks for a marker is a lot of work. They are hard to find. If you find one, please leave it in place.

Be careful; don’t step on the wildlife. A frog sits quite happily on the vegetation (Meadow Sweet Filipendula ulmaria , Marsh Pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris, Silverweed Potentilla anserina and Creeping Willow Salix repens).

A Twayblade (also spelt Twaeblade) orchid (Neottia ovata).

A lot of Burnet Moths Zygaena filipendulae feeding on a thistle.