Monday, 24 October 2016

24th October  Sheep making a positive impression on Michaelmass daisy

The sheep have been grazing within the Snook since the 6th October and are doing a great job opening up the sward.



Friday, 14 October 2016

The recent storms has brought a few smaller birds into the Reserve. Along the track from Chare Ends there were several small flocks of goldcrest, fieldfare and redwing. Also visible was this brambling taken by Alex whilst checking the cattle.

More about our new arrivals

The grazing of up to 50 sheep between now and early January 2017 will assist in the management of dune grassland on the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. The arrival of 30 sheep at the Snook on Holy Island earlier this month is one part of a wider Heritage Lottery Fund project that aims to improve natural habitat and inform its ongoing management.

Stock grazing is not new to Holy Island and, of course, looking after the dune grasslands is a key aspect of the work our work on Lindisfarne NNR. This year however the scale of the project has been increased with support from the HLF-funded Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership project with an extension to the area to be grazed, an increase in the size of the herd and an investment in equipment to contain the animals.
The grazing pattern of stock benefits key species, such as the unique Lindisfarne helleborine, and will reduce the impact of invasive species like the pirri-pirri bur and the Michaelmas daisy. The animals nibble at the sward at different rates creating a mosaic of grasses of differing length which in turn is of great benefit to the range of invertebrates the Reserve is noted for. 

Alex Dodds has been appointed as seasonal warden to help look after the sheep and cattle. Over the next three months Alex will also be undertaking vegetation surveys of the whole dune system. "After spending the summer as a Shorebird Warden monitoring Little terns, I'm excited to be back at Lindisfarne NNR as a winter Seasonal Warden” Alex said. “ My work is focused on livestock and practical habitat management, as well as carrying out extensive invasive and non-native plant survey work on Holy Island.  I’m looking forward to being involved in the wider reserve management throughout the next few months – persevering through the colder weather and carrying out practical habitat work during the winter is what shapes the success of the summer. I’m getting used to working on Holy Island and planning my schedule around the high tides.  I think the coast during winter is often underrated but I’m hoping for a few dramatic stormy days - I'm sure I can cope with a Northumberland winter as well as our livestock out on the Reserve."
The Dune Grassland Management project is run by us and is upported by the Peregrini Lindisfarne project, a HLF Landscape Partnership Project developed to conserve, enhance and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Holy Island and the wider shoreside landscape. Senior Reserve Manager Andrew Craggs commented “The extra funding has allowed us to expand our grazing project and commence an audit of non-native species that will help shape future management of the dune grasslands”. Helen Griffiths, Programme Manager for the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership added “These four-legged arrivals to the Reserve clearly play a special role in maintaining this outstanding dune habitat.

Peregrini will be updating their website about this and the many other projects they are funding

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Livestock back on the Reserve

We now have our autumn winter livestock on site. Whilst out and about on the Reserve you may come across the cattle and sheep.

Cattle arrive and head off to explore their new home. (c) Alex Dodds

Settling in a few days later (c) Alex Dodds

 Both cattle and sheep have come from a local farm and are chosen because they are steady around people. We have 30 cattle on the main Island and they will be munching their way through the dunes to help open the sward and encourage flora in the spring and summer. They will also be helping to control Pirri.

Cattle browsing the scrub. (c) Alex Dodds

On the Snook we have 30 sheep and they are helping to control the invasive Michaelmas Daisy and areas of dune slack. They have been on site for just under a week now and are already making great inroads.

Sheep now on the Snook grazing the dune slacks.

If you are out and about please keep an eye out for signs and keep dogs on leads.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

How to watch seals

Seals are hauling out regularly around the Reserve. Large numbers can been seen from the Island out on the mud and sand flats. It's an amazing sight and if the wind is in the right direction you can hear them calling to each other. We've put together some helpful advice to keep in mind when you are out and about on the Reserve.

If you want to know more about how to watch seals responsibly then please download our free information by clicking on the seal in the corner of the blog page. If you see a seal when you are out on the Reserve please remember they are wild animals and should be treated as such - please don't go up to them.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Livestock return

It doesn't seem like yesterday that we were telling everyone that the livestock had done their job and were being taken off the Reserve. Well fast forward a year and we are now welcoming them back! Over the past few days signs have been put up and fencing in place in anticipation of the stock arriving.

On the Snook we will welcome back a flock of sheep whose job it will be to graze areas of the invasive Michaelmas Daisy and open up the sward in some of the dune slacks. The floral display was brilliant this year and the sheep play a big part in this. We hope to get them on in the next couple of days all going well.

The signs are up letting visitors know areas we are grazing - please take note of any instructions.

The cattle will be brought on next week. Again they are a great tool in managing the dunes grazing areas and opening up the sward. we hope to have 30 head of cattle on site throughout the winter so keep an eye out for them in the dunes.

Cattle from last year enjoying the sunshine.

Please remember to take heed of signs around the Reserve that tell you which areas we are grazing -  It is important to keep dogs on leads around livestock.

Redwings and stonechats

We've had a drop of redwings over the last few days and they've been seen around the dunes and farmland. There have also been noticeably more stonechats around.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Shorebird Round Up

It's been a while since we wound up the shorebird season here on the Reserve and now it's time for a round up of how the season went.

It was another good year here on Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. We had three shorebird wardens out on the beach helping with fences and chatting to the public.

There was a good number of little terns throughout the Reserve with a total of 37 scrapes and a amazing 42 fledged. Looking back over previous years our fledgling numbers for 2016 were the second highest since 2000. We also kept a close eye on other breeding shorebirds and arctic and common terns had a great year with 150 pairs. Ringed plover and oystercatchers have been struggling recently but we hope to have a closer look at what we can do to help them on the Reserve in the future.

Without a doubt the successes were due to wardens and volunteers. Particularly thanks goes to the volunteers who work tirelessly year after year to help give the counties shorebirds a fighting chance. As with anything in life you never know what will happen next year but we were happy to wave off our shorebirds on their migrations and bid them farewell till next year.
Volunteers have worked tirelessly this year to help give shorebirds a fighting chance.

All packed up and ready from a great season.

Children from Lowick and Holy Island 1st school helping to paint decoys as part of the EU Life+ Little Tern Project