Thursday, 17 December 2020

Merry Christmas! - A festive update from Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve

Firstly we would like to give you update from when the days were longer and warmer and the shorebirds were in the midst of breeding. The good news is that some shorebirds managed to fledge despite the massive influx of visitors to the coast post lockdown and less staff to police the protected areas. However, some nests were lost due to human and dog disturbance.

Large numbers of waders utilising the No Access areas during the breeding season.

 Below is a breakdown of numbers of shorebirds that nested across the Reserve in 2020.


Little Tern

Ringed Plover

Eurasian Oystercatcher

Common/ Arctic Tern

Total Scrape


Min 20


Min 100

Total fledged




Min 100





Min 1.0

Little Terns © K Simmonds

With increasing numbers of visitors on the coast there are some simple things you can do so you can enjoy and share the coastline with shorebirds.

·         Be aware of seasonal restrictions – When entering a beach be sure to read any signs and information that will tell you if there are areas that you cannot access or whether dogs should be on leads.

·         Look ahead and listen when walking along the shore. If you see a bird running ahead and alarm calling you are too close to a breeding territory, causing a stress response.

·         Walk along the wet sand – shorebirds will nest on the dry sand above the tide line. To give birds the most space try to time your walk with low tide.

·         On Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve keep dogs on leads at all times.

 Back to the present and it has been another busy month on the Reserve. The cattle and sheep have been in the dunes since October, munching away on the rank grasses and invasives, paving the way for the botanically rich dunes to burst forth come spring.

Numbers of Wigeon have declined over the past few weeks following record numbers in October. This decline is always happens at this time of year but there is still good numbers of Light-bellied Brent Geese feeding and almost exclusively utilising the intertidal areas. Good numbers of Knot, Bar-tailed Godwits and Redshank can be seen from the causeway too. Our bird mapping and disturbance surveys have been ongoing for the last couple of months and are already throwing out some interesting findings.

Numbers of Wigeon peaked at over 26,000. The highest count since the late 1980's ©JJD 

Sadly, earlier this month a small number of birds on the Reserve were found dead or sick. Tests revealed that they were positive for Avian Influenza and were part of a wider outbreak across the country. The strain in question has never infected humans, but it goes without saying that if you observe any dead or ill birds on the Reserve do not approach them and please keep dogs on leads to prevent them from coming into contact with infected birds. If the bird is on the Reserve please report to the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve Office on 01289 381470 and the DEFRA emergency line on 03459 335577. All birds outside the Reserve phone the DEFRA emergency line

There is still time to pick up some exclusive Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve merchandise to fill that special someone’s stocking! All proceeds of the sales come back to the Reserve and help support us to continue to protect this special place. If you would like to visit our online shop click on the shop tab above and browse the merchandise. All items have to be purchased through PayPal.

Ringed Plover pin badges are just one piece of merchandise available to purchase on our online shop

It has been a difficult and eventful year for everyone so we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from us all at Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. Here’s to a better and brighter 2021.

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