Thursday, 24 January 2013

24th Jan: Sand dunes - a fragile habitat

Lindisfarne NNR contains 243 hectares of sand dunes on Holy Island. Dunes are formed when wind-blown sand starts to gather and builds up to create a mound. This is then stabilised by Marram grass, its long roots spreading into the sand. Then more plants colonise the dunes and eventually they become fixed features. The plants of the dunes include rare and unique species of importance, which support butterfly and moth species including the Dark Green Fritillary (pictured below). The young and forming dunes – embryo dunes – are particularly fragile and vulnerable to erosion.


There are a number of embryo dunes on the foreshore at Goswick, adjacent to the NNR. Sadly, these have recently been damaged by tyre tracks from motor bike scrambling. Scrambling also affects the older, more stabilised dunes by removing plant cover, which exposes sand that can then blow away. The dunes are also important breeding sites for Skylarks and Meadow Pipits that nest amongst the grass in spring.
Recent damage to the dunes at Goswick

Due to man’s influence on the landscape over time, many sand dunes have been destroyed in the United Kingdom. This is why it is so important that we protect our remaining dunes, part of our natural heritage, for future generations and one of the key reasons behind Lindisfarne’s legal designation as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

Off-road driving is not permitted anywhere on the Reserve under any circumstances and we have contacted the Police regarding this recent incident at Goswick. They are looking into the matter seriously and local residents are keeping watch on the area. If you see anything suspicious, please ring the Reserve office on 01289 381470.


We have been processing January's WeBS count data (see previous post) and have some high counts of note: 51 Red-throated Divers (the highest count at Lindisfarne since the 1990s), 67 Long-tailed Ducks and 41 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Male and female Red-breasted Mergansers (John Dunn)


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