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


Monday, 12 September 2016


We were out last week doing our annual count of seals around the sand flats and mudflats of the Reserve. You can see in the picture a large group of grey seals hauled out onto the sand. We only do this a couple of times  in the year so that we minimise disturbance. We had a count of 2,600 which is a lower than last year. 

We often have seals hauling out around the Reserve and you may come across seals in groups or individuals near to where you walk. If you do come across them please keep your dog on a lead (their bite can be harmful to dogs and humans) and keep a clear distance -we recommend at least 50m but this might not be always be possible.
There is one particular harbour seal that enjoys fishing and hauling out near to the causeway. We get quite a few calls about this seal as visitors think it's hurt or injured. In fact it's just resting but we do check it regularly. If you see it please don't go near it some visitors have been going too close and causing it to move away.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Partnership Working

Working with the Environment Agency and local famers, regional NE staff have been sampling water in and around reed beds on the NNR. The reed beds are at different stages of growth and development on several farmers' lands. The reed beds will hopefully filter out pollutants. Water samples for many indicators are taken, including nutrient -- Nitrogen and Phosphate. We are in the second year of sampling and the hope is that the results will show how the reed beds are working.
Fenham Flats WQ sampling -- deployment in the field. 

The probe measures temperature, salinity,  pH, Dissolved Oxygen and other parametres

Monday, 5 September 2016

Brent are Back

The Reserve is home to 50% of the worlds population .

The Light-Bellied Brent Geese (LBB) that  Lindisfarne NNR is home to from September – March breed in the High Arctic, primarily Svalbard, east Greenland and Franz Josef Land.  The Reserve is home to approx. 50% of the world population with Denmark accommodating the remaining birds.

Light-bellied brent geese are landing back on the Reserve.
During the early 20th century the population numbered around 50,000 birds until a massive loss of the key Zostera beds on the continent and/or human over-exploitation resulted in a massive collapse of the population to 1500-2000 birds in the early 1970s.  The population has slowly grown to approx. 8700 (2015 spring staging census) .

The draw for the LBB is the extensive Zostera (eel grass) beds that the Reserve provides.
Zostera - the big draw for Light-Bellied Brent

We've been seeing groups of Light Bellied Brent Geese returning to the Reserve over the past couple of days and our  Fenham-le-Moor hide is a great place to observe one of our rarest geese.
(All pictures (c) JJD)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Seal Safari

We held a Seal Safari at the weekend and the stars of the walk didn't fail to perform. We had hundreds basking, swimming and bottling - putting on a great show for our walk. We walked up to the Look Out Tower getting amazing views from The Heugh and in the building itself. Thanks to everyone who came.

We have up to 4,000 seals hauling out on the sand flats, mudflats and rocky shore of Lindisfarne NNR. You may be lucky enough to see some of the seals close at hand as you walk around the island – here are our handy tips on how to act so that you and the seals are happy and safe.

Be aware- Realise that you are in an area where you may come across seals and be prepared to change route or move away from an area if you encounter any on the shore.  

Keep Your Distance – It is tempting to try and get a better view of the seals even if they don’t move away your presence will be affecting their behaviour.
Keep Dogs on Short Leads - seals may look docile and cute but they are wild animals. Their bite is also infectious for both humans and dogs.  Keeping your dog under control will prevent them getting in harm’s way.
Do not approach large groups of seals out on the sand and mud flats - Allow at least 50 m between you and the seals. Walking towards large groups of seals causes them to find refuge in the water expending valuable energy they need to survive.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Yoga on the North Shore

It may seem a little weird pairing a National Nature Reserve with something like Yoga. Having said that we had Yoga on the North Shore on Sunday and the tranquillity of Nature Reserve married with the calm of the yoga perfectly. Despite a slight breeze the sun shone and the group just about had the whole beach to themselves. Big thanks goes to Trudy from Berwick and Borders Yoga for running the event.

Monday, 22 August 2016

It's that time again ...MarClim survey! What did we find on the Rocky Shore??

Every year the MarClim project with the help of NE staff survey the rocky shore here on the Nature Reserve. You can find out more about the survey here The data collected feeds into a national dataset which over time can tell us about species shifts. Below are some of the species that were found on the survey.

All were photographed and left were they where found to carry on their day. If you are out rock pooling around the Reserve then remember to leave anything you look at where you found it, replace any rocks and if you have dogs with you keep them on a lead or close at heel. Thanks to Catherine Scott for the images and captions.

A squat lobster (Galathea squamifera) on the rocky shore, hiding under a rock. Always make sure that you put a turned rock back carefully in its original position, so the animals and plants uncovered do not dry out and die.

Velvet Swimming crab (Necora puber) -- be careful they can give you a nasty nip.

Brittlestar (Ophiothrix fragilis) a small example sitting on Halichondria sponge.

Loads of beasties in a rock crevice. Can you spot the Strawberry anemone (Actinia fragacea) and the edible crab (Cancer pagurus)?

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Not just shorebirds need our help...

This year you may have noticed a different design of sign on the Reserve. Over the summer months we had these (see below) throughout the Reserve to give visitors information about ground nesting birds such as lapwing, skylark and meadow pipit. Did you see one?
 All the mentioned birds nest at ground level and often you won't know you are near their nest until they shoot up and away or start calling like lapwing. In addition to the sign we also fenced off a small area with temporary fencing just to give them an area free from disturbance. We monitor the breeding birds in this area and hope to share the numbers from the last few years here on the blog.