Monday, 17 May 2021

Spring-ing into action

 Spring is always an extremely busy time on the Reserve with the flowering dunes waking up from their long winter slumber and the thousands of departing over wintering geese, ducks and waders handing over the baton to the breeding birds that use the Reserve to breed and feed throughout the summer months.

April was a spectacular month in terms of sun but there was big diurnal ranges with extensive and hard frosts throughout the month and even a thick covering of snow on the Cheviots as we entered May. These cold nights have had a definite effect on the wildlife and botany across the Reserve with many things such as the early flowering Orchids appearing much later than normal.

Orchids have been later this year

By the end of April the dunes were tinderbox dry with wildfires becoming an increasing risk factor. In addition to the disturbance caused this is another major reason why we don’t permit wild camping and any fires or barbecues on the Reserve. Thankfully, May has been more unsettled so far, giving the ground a necessary dousing of rain. The wetter weather doesn’t appear to have affected the ground nesting Skylarks and Meadow Pipits who can be seen and heard frenetically singing above their territory warding away other birds with breeding bird surveys showing good numbers using the site.

The action isn’t just limited to the dunes though, with shorebirds using the beaches to nest, feed and rest. We already have a number of active nests across the Reserve. But the sad fact is nationally, we are losing these birds at a rapid rate with one of the main causes of failure at the nesting site being human and dog disturbance

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is a stronghold for Ringed Plovers and Little Terns and so it is vitally important that we protect them. Little Terns are one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK and a Schedule 1 species meaning that it is a criminal offence to disturb them. Breeding Ringed Plovers have declined by over 65% in Northumberland and overwintering numbers have declined nationally by 50% in the last 30 years. This has resulted in the species being put on the Red List in the UK.

Ringed Plover feeding in the intertidal areas of the Reserve ©JJD

To combat the declines, areas are protected by wardens throughout the summer as part of the Shorebird Protection Scheme. This not only protects the breeding birds but the exclusion zones provide a wider benefit to feeding and roosting birds, providing a safe area to live, survive and thrive. However, shorebirds can nest anywhere along the coast so it is important to be aware, wherever you are walking on the Reserve. All the breeding Terns are back and the roost sites are continually building in number. Courtship behaviour has been observed in Little Terns so hopefully it won’t be long until the first scrapes are seen.

Little Tern brooding a chick ©Kevin Simmonds

To assist in decreasing the disturbance across the Reserve and further, a trial Dog Zonation Initiative is now in place until 1st September. Dog zonation maps are in place at every main access point on the Reserve. For more information about this initiative and why it is needed, please read the Dog zone Initiative tab at the top of this page or ring the Reserve office on 01289381470. The current bylaws of the Reserve are also available to read via a tab at the top of the page.

No comments:

Post a Comment