Sunday, 5 April 2020

J is for Journeys

Please remember! We ask that people do not visit the Reserve particularly if you have to travel. All car parks on Holy Island are closed to visitors until government restrictions are lifted. Many residents on Holy island fall into the vulnerable category. Please adhere to these guidelines for the health and safety of yourself and others during this time.

For millennia wildlife and people have made long distance journeys to this distinctive part of the Northumberland coastline.

From Holy Islands early Christian beginnings in the 7th century, when St Aiden established the first priory on the island, pilgrims have been flocking to the site. Even now some 1300 years later the site is still important as a centre of religion. Thousands of people still take the walk across the mudflats following the tall posts known as the Pilgrim’s way. For some this has a particular spiritual significance and they will undertake the walk annually, often walking barefoot. There is some debate as to the origin of the name Lindisfarne but one theory is that the ‘farne’ part maybe from Old English – fearena meaning traveller further suggesting it as a site of major pilgrimage
People walking along the Pilgrims way
Birds have been making long journeys to this site for far longer than humans. All 5 of the UK’s breeding species of Terns make the long journey to Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. The Common, Sandwich, Roseate and Little Tern make a long migration from Africa to breed here but Arctic Terns make one of the longest journeys of anything in nature. Arriving in late April, Arctic Terns migrate from the pack ice off Antarctica! Ringed individuals on the nearby Farne Islands have been shown to have travelled 59,000km in a single year! Once bred, the Reserve is used extensively to feed and roost before making the long return journey to their wintering grounds.
As soon as the summer breeding birds have left the first migrating geese and waders return migrating from as far as northern Greenland, Svalbard and arctic Russia. The numbers rise steadily until by mid-October the Reserve is being utilised by up to 50,000 birds. It was due to the mass gatherings of wintering waterfowl that the area from Cheswick black rocks, near Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north to Budle Bay in the south was designated as Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.
Large flock of Light-bellied Brent Geese
Unfortunately for the foreseeable future all non-essential journeys to the Reserve must stop. Over the next few weeks wildlife will be streaming onto the Reserve to start the breeding season with the rhythms of nature continuing unabated.

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