UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme: Involves weekly butterfly surveys on our fixed transect, set up in the 1970s, allowing us to build up a picture of the Reserve's common butterfly populations over time. The Reserve's star butterfly species are the dark green fritillary, the island being the most important site for this species in the North East, and the grayling.
WeBS - The Wetland Bird Survey is carried out monthly on the Reserve, this is our longest-running survey and gives us a broad picture of how bird numbers are doing here. It involves a coordinated count of all wildfowl and other wetland birds across the whole Reserve - no mean feat considering this is almost 4000 hectares! The Reserve volunteers kindly give up their time every month to help carry out this vital survey.
BBS: The Breeding Bird Survey began on the Reserve in 2009 - this involves twice-yearly counts at the beginning and end of the breeding season along a fixed transect route, recording the birds seen and heard. This should be carried out early in the morning when birds are most active, making for a very enjoyable couple of hours.
Vegetation: We have a number of fixed quadrats across the Reserve, these help us monitor changes in vegetation in the same spot over a long time period. These are useful in telling us how grazing is affecting the plant species composition.
Mammals: Reserve staff will be continuing the small mammal surveys that began in Spring 2009. So far, these have confirmed the presence of field vole, woodmouse, common shrew, pygmy shrew and water shrew on the island. Longworth traps containing bait were used - these were very time-consuming, requiring checking every 4 hours even in the early hours of the morning! Reserve staff also worked with with Berwick Wildlife Group to survey small mammals on the dunes of the adjacent coast - this will show if there are any differences between mammal populations on the mainland and Holy Island.
Field vole found on the Snook during the small mammal surveys, 2009 (V. Carnell)
Woodmouse found in hedgerow near the village, 2009 (V. Carnell)
We are hoping to build up a picture of as many different species on the Reserve as possible and any important population changes over the years. Results from all our surveys can be combined - for example we can examine pellets from our resident owls to find out what they are eating, then see if this relates to population changes detected through the small mammal surveys.