Tuesday, 3 November 2020

October happenings

 As we have moved into November the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in. Even though the days are short; this time of year on the Reserve is the most spectacular as the intertidal area becomes a moving mass of ducks, geese and waders. Thousands of geese move to and from the site each day causing a mesmerising audio and visual display at dawn and dusk and waders form complex aerial acrobatics over the mudflats either disturbed by predators or people. Numbers have now likely  peaked with an incredible 26,665 recorded on the NNR during our WeBs count last month, the highest count since the late 1980's! There have also been over 5,000 Light-bellied Brent utilising the Reserve.

Large numbers of Wigeon on site - ©JJD

At the start of October we began our most extensive study into disturbance of the internationally important numbers of wintering waterfowl and waders on Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. The aim of the study is to map bird species, numbers and disturbance incidences across the Reserve to get a better understanding of the effect that this has on the movements and redistribution of birds across the site and whether repeated disturbance moves them off the Reserve entirely. To get an overview of the whole area, 4 stations are dotted around the Reserve and observed over a protracted period of time. These surveys will be undertaken frequently through autumn and winter.

As part of our monitoring schedule we also count grey goose roosts. The first nationally co-ordinated counts occurred this month and showed that 7,000 birds were using the Reserve and an additional 4,000 present on additional freshwater sites next to the NNR.

At the start of last month the Cattle returned to the dunes to graze. Over the next few months they will remove the rank grasses that have grown up over the course of the year, reducing the height and density of the sward. This, along with their hefty weight opens up the sward and allows the flowers to bloom come spring. The Sheep have also now arrived and will be grazing in the Snook focusing on the dune slacks and grazing non-native species such as Michaelmas daisy. In addition to grazing, we have also been out cutting some of the more delicate dune slacks and hard to reach areas. We have been out with our volunteers raking up all the cuttings and will be taking back to our office base to compost.

Cows at dusk

Reducing our carbon footprint while working on the Reserve is a key priority to us and so this month we received our new electric gator. This vehicle creates no emissions at point of use and is a great mobile hide, allowing panoramic views of the spectacular Reserve from behind the cab windows. We have also been switching over our petrol machinery to battery operated where possible.

Electric gator - no emissions at source

Finally, the Lough and Fenham-le-Moor bird hides have reopened in the last week. Go and take a close look at the spectacular wildlife from these buildings but please adhere to Covid-19 guidelines for social distancing and remember to sanitise your hands before and after using door and window latches. We also have NHS app QR codes on the door for track and trace, so if you have downloaded the app you can check-in when entering.

Also please check out our online shop on the 'shop' tab on this website. You can purchase a number of different items including our new limited pin badges (Great stocking fillers!). All proceeds come back to Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve to help us look after this spectacular place in these difficult times.

One of our volunteers Richard, sporting our new pin badges.

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