Friday, 19 November 2021

November update

 When the clocks go back and bonfire night is over it always feels as if the winter has set in and Christmas is looming on the horizon but the remarkably mild weather has meant that I have barely broke out the winter coat yet! This time of year is always so special with thousands of wintering wildfowl and waders utilising the expansive mudflats and eelgrass beds to feed and rest after migrating from the high arctic. Vast aerial displays of Golden Plover and Knot can regularly be viewed and the chattering of hundreds of Light-bellied Brent Geese feeding close into the causeway is always an amazing sight.

It is a tricky time of year to get essential practical works complete, fighting against the tides and the limited hours of daylight. However, this hasn’t stopped us getting stuck in with some of our regular volunteers as we commenced our practical task days again for the first time in 2 years. First up was clearing patches of Montbretia – a lovely garden plant but has escaped and become established in some parts of the dunes. This forms a monoculture and outcompetes native species resulting in it’s quick spread. We have also been tackling areas of scrub regeneration which can take hold and spread across the floristically diverse dune slacks around the Snook. We will be holding several more task days in the run up to Christmas so if you would like to volunteer please email andy.denton@naturalengland.org.uk for more information.


Montbretia removal with volunteers 

Scrub Removal with volunteers

Events have been held throughout the Autumn providing wildlife experiences and educating people about the NNR and about best practice for viewing wildlife. Our last event – Dawn chorus at Budle Bay was particularly memorable as thousands of Geese flew low right over our heads filling the air with their iconic ‘wink wink’ calls as the sun slowly rose above the horizon casting pink and orange hues across the sky. We will still be holding some pop-up events so keep your eyes peeled on our social media sites and blog website. We will also be putting together our full events programme for the 2022 season over the winter months. All events are free so please drop-by in and experience the amazing habitats and wildlife and learn more about the National Nature Reserve.

Dawn Chorus event at Budle Bay platform

Natural England is now lead partner in an exciting new EU Life project called WADER, aiming to address some of the biggest environmental issues on the North Northumberland Coast. This project will give us extra resource to deliver our management plan and add value to the National Nature Reserve. For more information follow @LifeWader on Twitter. A website will also be up and running soon.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Autumn update


Now the dust has settled over the frantic last few weeks of the breeding season we can finally sit down and analyse the results of the shorebird breeding season. The preliminary findings are broadly positive for Terns but Ringed Plover breeding territories are down. There were record numbers of Arctic Terns breeding across the Reserve with good productivity. Little Terns were doing very well with Lindisfarne NNR holding all the North Northumberland birds with 76 pairs, the highest level since records began. Sadly, the weather hit us with a cruel blow when the spring tides accompanied with a strong northerly wind resulted in large proportion scrapes getting washed out at one of the 4 protection areas, in late June, despite a valiant effort from our staff and volunteers.

Record numbers of Arctic Terns ©JJD

Ringed Plover breeding attempts were lower across the board despite approximately 3,500 migrating through the Reserve in spring, often utilising the protection areas as a safe haven to roost and feed. A combination of high tides and disturbance were the likely cause for pairs failing at egg stage or just giving up entirely. This was particularly evident at Budle Bay where immense visitor pressure has been the likely cause of no pairs attempting to breed for the first time in many years.

The first wildfowl began arriving in late August. To me they always herald the end of summer and a return to the dark cold mornings filled with the cacophony of calling Geese as they move from roosting to feeding site – a real treat to experience and probably my favourite time of year. The Reserve currently holds over 2,500 Light bellied Brent Geese and over 10,000 Wigeon although these numbers will swell significantly as new birds continuously arrive into October. Pink-footed Geese were late this year but can now be heard and seen flighting in and out of the Reserve.

Brent Goose are back on the Reserve for the winter ©JJD

September is also the month that we turn our attention to the return of livestock to the Snook and Links to carry out conservation grazing.  As usual a herd of cattle have returned to graze the Links area of the island. These cows are specially selected for their calm demeaner. Sheep will return to the Snook where they will graze movable 1 hectare fenced blocks. The livestock remove much of the rank grasses that have grown up through the summer months and reducing the height of the sward. This allows the diverse range of botany unique to dune ecosystems to burst through by next spring. The sheep also nibble away at invasive plants such as Michaelmas daisy and occasionally some Pirri-pirri Bur.

Cattle on the links 

Our events programme is back in full swing, staging a wide array of activities from Fulmar and history walks to seal and migratory bird watches. Our events schedule can be found on our blog website and also in any of the NNR bird hides and also Chare Ends car park. On Tuesday 26th October we are running a dawn chorus event at the Budle Bay platform from 7:30am. Come down with a hot thermos and view one of natures great spectacles as thousands of geese leave their roost to head out to feed. You can find more details on our Twitter, Facebook and blog. Please come down and help us clean up the stunning coastline that makes up the National Nature Reserve.

Budle Bay platform will host a dawn chorus event on 26th October

The Dog Zonation trial ended on September 1st. The monitoring data collected is currently being independently analysed. We will share the results of this report in due course. Please be aware that the Reserve has now reverted back to the original bylaw which states.

bringing into, or permitting to remain within the Reserve; (i) any dog unless it is kept on a lead or at heel and is prevented from worrying or disturbing any animal or bird, or (ii) any other animal;”

This is applicable across the whole National Nature Reserve.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Beach Clean this Saturday!

This weekend we are joining many people from Dunbar to Blyth in cleaning up our coastline as part of the Cross Border Coastal Clean-up organised by Sea the Change. This forms part of our annual programme of litter picks across Lindisfarne NNR. Every high tide more litter washes in along our coastline highlighting the huge human impact that we have had on the marine ecosystem. So why not pop along for a lunchtime stroll along the beach and help clean-up the coastline. 

Litter picked up on North Shore


We are carrying out two litter picks on Saturday 25th September between 11am-1pm. So why not pop along for a lunchtime stroll along the beach and do your bit to help clean-up our coastline.

Goswick beach clean - meet at Goswick Golf Course Car Park just before 11am. You are welcome to use the Golf Course Club House for refreshments.

North Shore beach clean - Meet at the Snook car park just before 11am 

All litter pickers and bags will be provided.

Happy litter pickers!


Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Rockpool Ramble

It was typical bank holiday weather for our rockpool ramble this weekend. However, the cool northerly wind and occasional drizzle wasn't enough to dampen the spirit of our hardy young explorers who took part in a spot of Rockpool bingo!

We scoured every nook and cranny to see what strange and interesting creatures lay just beneath the shallow pools just using the powers of observation

It is important not to roll over any large rocks within these pools. The rocks are small micro habitats for many marine creatures so rolling over the rocks destroys these habitats and can potentially crush any creatures that are living underneath them.

We also used a bathyscope to get clear views underwater of Hermit Crabs scurrying along the seabed and a Sea Lemon stuck to the underside of some kelp. Even without rolling over rocks, being patient, we discovered Brittlestars, Shorecrabs, Edible Crabs and a large Velvet Swimming Crab. In some places the bottom of the Rockpool was moving with Hermit Crabs as they went about their daily business.

The rocky shore of St Cuthbert's Island 

Family enjoying the rockpooling

Everyone enjoyed discovering and learning about the rocky shore that is rich in biodiversity, despite the chilly weather. Those that shouted BINGO! on completing their bingo sheet were even rewarded with a prize.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Events are back!

Over the last month we have relaunched our events program after a 18-month hiatus due to COVID-19. Seal watches, Fulmar walks and Seawatches have all been undertaken over the last few weeks and have been well attended and enjoyed by all. We have more events scheduled over the summer and autumn alongside a number of pop-up events so keep your eyes peeled on our social media accounts.

Seawatch at Emmanuel Head

A Meet and Greet at the Snook Car Park


Below are some of the events scheduled for this summer and autumn. There will also be regular pop-up events so keep your eyes peeled on our social media accounts. All events are free but donations are welcome. The next event is a fascinating history walk about The Lost Buildings of Lindisfarne led by local historian John Woodhurst. If you would like to book onto this walk please ring the Reserve office on 01289381470 or email andy.denton@naturalengland.org.uk.



Thursday, 22 July 2021

Focus on.... Oystercatcher

 Next in our series is the Oystercatcher. Oystercatchers are a noisy addition to the suite of breeding shorebirds that use Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve to breed, feed and roost. As with many shorebirds across the UK, Oystercatchers are in decline and as a result are now amber listed.



Thursday, 24 June 2021

Focus on.... Ringed Plover

We will be starting a series of blog posts focusing on certain species of birds and plants that make Lindisfarne NNR special. The fact file will include information about their habitat and ecology as well as why Lindisfarne NNR is an important site for the species.  We start the series with the Ringed Plover. This species is often overlooked, owing to its diminutive size and well camouflaged nesting habits.