Tuesday, 26 May 2015

St Mark's Fly

You may have seen a small glut of these little fellas.


These large black flies with dangly legs which hover in the wind are called St Mark's Flies. Put your bug spray away as they may be annoying but they only fly for 1 week and don't bite. The rest of their time is spent as larva and when flying they are only trying to attract a female.

As you can imagine slow flying juicey flies provide a tasty treat for many birds on the reserve such as sky larks and meadow pippits. They are a particularly important food source at a time in of the year where there are hungry chicks to feed.

But why are they called St Mark's fly? They normally emerge around the same day every year - 25th of April or the day where the Venice's patron saint St Mark is celebrated. Emerging in April they become more visible in May.


Friday, 22 May 2015

Friday Facts

Having just started as reserve warden I was asked to put together a fact file for our educational outreach info. From a newbies point of view it was a great opportunity to delve a little deeper into the NNR and how it came about. So here goes are you ready for some Friday facts?

                                          When looking at the information leaflets about the reserve I kept noticing that it covers of 3,500 hectares. Hectares may not mean much but with a quick web search I found that this relates to well over 3,500 Wembly football pitches. Stretching from Cheswick Black Rocks in the North to Budle Bay in the South it's not surprising when you also hear that Lindisfarne is one the largest Reserves in the North East covering a mosaic of internationally important coastal habitat.

The Reserve is half a century old and has seen some changes in those fifty years. The causeway was completed two years after designation as a National Nature Reserve. It was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1989 and a Ramsar site for it's important wetland habitats in 1976. For more information on Ramsar sites including Lindisfarne have a look here.

What about the star species for the reserve and what makes them special?

  • The Reserve has its own endemic wild flower the Lindisfarne Helleborine which is only found on Holy Island. 
  •  All 4 species of UK terns have bred on Lindisfarne in the past.   All species of tern migrate large distances to breed on the NNR. Arctic terns in particular can travel up to 70,000km every.   The total distance flown in an Arctic Terns life time may exceed 2.4 million km.
  • One of the Reserves star species is the Light- bellied Brent geese and Lindisfarne NNR is their only regular wintering site in Britain
      There are plenty more facts and information about the Reserve on our leaflet which you can download from this blog and on our information panels around the reserve.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Champions for shorebirds on the NNR

Another shorebird update!

With the help of external funding we have a new shorebird warden who started this week. Richard has joined us for the summer season and in additional to staff and volunteers will be out and about around the NNR talking to visitors and making sure shorebirds are given the room they need to breed. He will be joined shortly by another warden, Laura, who will be taking up the gauntlet later in the month. Say hi to them if you see them out on the beach and help make their job a little easier by being aware of sensitive breeding areas whilst on the beach. Download our leaflet 'Sharing Our Beaches with Birds' for loads more info.

Sorry not a picture of the Richard the new warden - I'll get one of them out and about for the next blog!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Fences go up

Over the last week staff and volunteers have been putting up temporary protective fencing around the reserve. The fencing will allow shorebirds on the NNR to have a little bit of the Northumberland beach just for them without the threat of disturbance. 

Whilst out and about we had Ringed Plovers already incubating eggs. The eggs are so small and camouflaged it is easy to see how they could be trampled. 

Ringed Plover footprints on the beach. If you see a lot of these in an area it could indicate activity. 

We've been putting up outer fences with blue rope and signs - please don't go past them.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Sharing Our Beaches With Birds

 We are a partner of The Northumberland Little Tern project and we've been  putting together some information in a leaflet on how to enjoy the beach responsibly. The hope is the leaflet will help visitors to our beautiful coast enjoy their time whilst also ensuring shorebirds have the room they need during the breeding season. There’s also a nifty shorebird I.D. guide to take with you on your walk. It's been part funded by EU LIFE+ as part of the national Little Tern Recovery Project.
The front cover of our free new leaflet. Photo of little tern by K . Simmonds

We are just putting the finishing  touches to it and will be officially launching it in the next few weeks so watch this space.

Hopefully we’ll be getting the leaflets into a whole host of places including Tourist information centers which will give visitors a chance to read them before they arrive. If you are local business or give information out  and are interested in pre-ordering some copies then please get in contact with the reserve office and we can sort out getting some to you.  

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Shorebirds in the press again

Great to see fences for shorebirds going up further down the coast at Druridge Bay - it's getting to the time of the year where we'll be dusting off the electric fences and doing the same up here.

Volunteers helped sort and store fencing from last year.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Almost that time of year again

Plenty of Sandwich terns around the NNR recently and we received news from the National Trust of a very early returning little tern that was seen on the Farne Islands.

It's not long now until now the breeding season is well and truly underway. Keep an eye on the blog for updates!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Update from the WoWL - Tuesday 7th of April

One of the Reserve's volunteers, Richard, regularly visits the Window on Wild Lindisfarne (WoWL for sort) to inform visitors to the building about the work of Natural England on the NNR and what we do to conserve the special habitats here. He has very kindly written about how his day at the WoWL went. 

" On Easter Tuesday I made my first visit of 2105 to WoWL. What a busy day with well over 200 people coming into the building. The telescope spent most of the time at it's lowest level - so many children visiting with it being holiday time. They do enjoy seeing the birds so close.

Redshank (Photo: Natural England)
What of the birds? Well the 13 black-tailed godwits were still there, with one in breeding plumage. A few black-headed and herring gulls sat around and there was a small group of teal on the scrape. As I was about to leave in the afternoon a large group of redshank flew in, together with a few oystercatchers. Feeding on the grass were starlings and meadow pipit. The highlight of the visit was a fly over of the field by a barn owl.

Kind regards
Richard "