Friday, 13 December 2013

13th December: Special post from our volunteer guides

As you may have read in previous posts, we now have 4 dedicated guides who regularly volunteer in the new Window on Wild Lindisfarne building on Holy Island. Today, two of these volunteers have kindly given us an insight into what it's like to be a volunteer guide. David and Gill, who have been volunteers since 2008 as part of our little tern breeding project and volunteer guides since August, live locally and are very friendly and enthusiastic about helping out on the Reserve. 

David and Gill write:

"It's not just the visitors to Holy Island who enjoy themselves. Volunteers with Natural England at the Window on Wildlife Lindisfarne (WOWL) have a good time chatting to people from across the globe and also get to watch some birds too.

A drake teal - one of the many beautiful birds seen from the WOWL in winter

During the summer months the large scrape contains very little water but the pond immediately outside the window is full. Flocks of linnets, up to 10 at a time, come to bathe and swallows and house martins skim the surface for flies. The odd wader visits and, of course, there are many, many human visitors on the Island coming into WOWL - over 50 per hour. The bird and sheep footprints cut into the floor tiles give the kids something to look at and the grown-ups can enjoy the birds. There are also plenty of sheep to see too!

In the winter, the pond just outside the window is little used but the scrape fills up and we get good views of light-bellied brent geese, oystercatchers, shoveler, wigeon, teal, curlew on most days. The smarter looking birds like the oystercatchers draw the “oohs” and “aws” and geese surprise people when they learn about the long flight they have taken to reach our shores. The visiting birds really welcome the fresh water area on this coastal site, very important for having a good clean up and a drink! In the winter, some people come in grateful to be out of the wind but they warm to the view outside the window. Everyone enjoys a chat, sometimes brief and sometimes longer. Some visitors arrive with telescopes and binoculars and are a good source of information about what is around the Island.

Visitors at the Window on Wild Lindisfarne

Visitors are often surprised to learn that good views of seals are possible, with a great vantage point being the old coastguard tower. To get here, visitors can walk past the harbour with its up-turned boats now acting as sheds. Some are interested to see plants or in the social and industrial history of the Island and ask about the castle, harbour, lookout and priory. Others want to walk to the hide at the Lough to see more birds and to understand how Natural England is providing habitats for wildlife. Whatever their interest there is plenty for visitors to see and do. WOWL is also the start of the Reserve’s self-guided Nature Trail, as here you can pick up a leaflet which contain trail details and a map. This fantastic walk takes you along historic raised waggonways past the Lough hide and through the dunes."

David and Gill will be making regular contributions to our blog, updating on what can be seen around the Reserve and goings-on at the Window on Wild Lindisfarne. We look forward to more from our volunteer guides!

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