Thursday, 19 January 2017

Messing up

This pile off dog waste and rubbish was collected from a heap at Kiln Point in Budle Bay. What started with a discarded plastic drum seemed to attract 10 kgs of dog waste which had to be collected and transported. We don't have any dog or rubbish bins on site and wanted to ask visitors to take their rubbish away with them including dog waste. I'm sure you will agree it's not nice to look at or to collect.



Discarded Dog Waste - Really??

Monday, 16 January 2017

Avian Nictitating Membrane

Birds have the means to clean and protect their eyes through the use of a nictitating membrane. This thin layer of skin slides in the horizontal plane, where the main eyelid closes in a vertical plane. The species that dive for food use this membrane under the surface, protecting the eye. Raptors that hunt prey at speed, such as the peregrine, may close the membrane at point of impact, or during the final stoop, again for protection. Photographs of these birds frequently show the membrane, giving them the appearance of being blinded. It is through that the bird can still see well during the time the membrane is closed.


Even in sheltered bays on LNNR, Northerly gales produce big waves, salt-spray, and sleet. These resting wigeon use their nictitating eye membrane to give them some relief. They also use the membrane to see under the surface of the water. (c) JJD


Hunting for aquatic larvae entirely submerged underwater, the dipper can see clearly through the membrane, which is a striking white colour (Not taken on the Reserve). (c) JJD

The picture (not taken on the Reserve) shows the nictitating membrane partially retracted. The bird excavates and drums with such force that it needs the protection of the membrane to shield it from flying splinters. (c) JJD

(All Text and Photos John Dunn)

Friday, 13 January 2017

Litter Picking

 
The bad weather, high seas and snow doesn't stop our volunteers. We were out at Goswick today collecting rubbish. Some of our haul included fish boxes, bottles and seed trays. Thanks to the hardy group that came.
 
All smiles before the pick!

Wind swept Goswick - Jill is looking a little lonely out there...

 


The haul from the beach clean.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Pirri Pirri Eating Machines

 
There have been a few flurries of snow here on the Reserve today but nothing too much yet. Alex snapped this great photo of our sheep chewing on Pirri. They've been hammering the scrub recently and we could see evidence they'd touched to pirri but this photo shows it all.
 
 
 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Grazers Scrub Up Well



Sheep doing a great job grazing the scrub on the Reserve.
Every winter we use grazing as a habitat management tool on Holy Island in order to open up the sward of vegetation within the dune system and reduce the impact of non-native invasive species like Pirri-pirri bur and Michaelmas daisy.  However, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership project this winter we have been able to expand the grazing activities on the island.   
 
The cattle have now left the NNR but the sheep are still nibbling away at the vegetation around the Snook.  This winter is seeing the most extensive grazing ever done on the Snook; the sheep have been out on areas which have never been grazed before.  As well as grazing on the grasses and non-native species such as Michaelmas daisy, the sheep have also been having a taste of some small pine and birch trees.
 
 
The benefits of this grazing regime can be seen in the spring and summer months when the wildflowers begin to bloom.  Between May and July orchids and other dune specialists can be seen flowering in the slacks of the Holy Island dune system; including Grass-of-Parnassus, pyramidal orchids, marsh orchid species and the endemic Lindisfarne helleborine. 
 


Pyramidal Orchid


Grass of Parnassus
 
By increasing the diversity of wildflowers on the island, day flying moth species like the Six-Spot Burnet moth and butterfly species such as the dark green fritillary will also thrive.  Other butterfly species you can look forward to seeing through the summer season include common blue, small heath, green-veined white, and ringlet – if you look extra hard you might be able to spot one of the well-camouflaged graylings. 

 
Grayling.
Dark Green Fritillary
Common Blue
 








 
 
 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year!


If you’re looking for a way to escape the January blues then come and take a winter walk around the NNR, there’s still plenty of wildlife and scenery to take in on and around Holy Island. 

  
 
 


 

 

During the winter months, geese, ducks and waders are still present in the UK to feed before migrating back to their breeding grounds in northern Scandinavia.  Around the coves and beaches of Holy Island there are flocks of Sanderling, Oystercatcher and Redshank, as well as plenty of Curlew and Shelduck foraging out on the mudflats.

 


Ringed Plovers on the shore
 

In Cove’s Haven you can sometimes see Fulmars flying over the clifftops and gathered on the rocky ledges, sheltering from spending the winter out at sea.

 

 

Keep a look out for Stonechats and Redwings too around the dunes and grasslands, often perched on a fence post or the top of vegetation.

 

 

 

While our cows may have left the island, the sheep are still out grazing the dunes.

 
(Text and pics by Alex)
 

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve Advent Calendar - Door number 25 Merry Christmas!!!!!

The final two letters of the alphabet and behind door number 25 is Youngsters - here's a coots in the Lough from the summer. Lastly we've got Zostera. We've mentioned Zostera or Eel grass quite a bit and it's an important species for the Reserve! Well that completes the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve calendar. Hope you've enjoyed it and are having a great Christmas. Here's to 2017


 
 
 

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Cattle Drive Home For Christmas

After spending the last three months on Holy Island, the cows have now gone back to their farm  near Lowick on the mainland.  They have been extensively grazing a large area of the NNR on the island as part of our management of the dune grasslands.  This is not a new management technique for the reserve but the scale of grazing work has been increased this winter with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership project. 

 
The cows reduce the amount of rank grasses, create a mosaic of different length vegetation, as well as nibbling at the invasive Pirri-pirri bur.   The grazing regime on the NNR benefits key dune specialist plant species, such as the endemic Lindisfarne helleborine (Epipactis sancta), and will reduce the impact of non-native invasive species like Pirri-pirri bur and Michaelmas daisy.
 
Rounding up the cattle from the Reserve
 


The tricky bit - getting them in the pen ready for loading!

All in safe and sound - time to say bye and a final scratch behind the ears for Charlie the cow.


It was a team effort from the NNR staff, volunteers and farmers to round up all of the cows from the Reserve and load them onto the trailer – with some festive mince pies to keep us going between trailer loads.