Friday, 29 March 2019

March update

We have passed the equinox. Spring has sprung – the first chiffchaffs calling their names in the hedgerows, fuzzy drinker moth caterpillars emerging from hibernation, and frog spawn in great clumps in the wet slacks in the duneland beyond the Straight Lonnen. We have seen large flocks of whooper swans flying in great loops above Holy Island, white shapes against grey clouds – perhaps orienting themselves for their spring migration back to Iceland. The geese, too, are on the move.

Ground-nesting birds such as skylark and meadow pipit are beginning to form territories and fulmars have returned to the rocky ledges of the Reserve’s only sea cliff. This month has seen the last scrub bashes of the season, with teams of staff and volunteers setting to with secateurs and loppers, and pitting our weight against the roots of the willow scrub on the Snook. We have been continuing to clean the Reserve’s beaches and duneland of litter, trundling a wheelbarrow across the dunes to collect bulky items from the North Shore.

In the Rocket field, we are at the start of a project working with Jimmy to improve conditions for overwintering and breeding birds. Good numbers of teal and oystercatcher have been present there over the winter period, as well as lots of roosting gulls.

Shorebird season will soon be upon us – sandwich terns have already been seen in the south of England, and from the end of April onwards we will close off sections of beach across the Reserve to provide refuge areas for little terns and ringed plover to nest in without human or dog disturbance. Both species are under threat and breeding success is in decline. We are looking for volunteers to help us with our conservation efforts, to assist with shorebird monitoring and public engagement. Lindisfarne NNR are spearheading a Northumberland census of ringed plover and are seeking volunteers to regularly check sections of coastline to help us to monitor their numbers and breeding success. Please contact Lead Shorebird Warden Katherine Dunsford at if you are interested in volunteering.

Finally, we are in the process of appointing new seasonal shorebird wardens, and a new Reserve Manager, to help us to care for the species and habitats of this spectacular place.

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