Monday, 10 February 2014

31st January: Two days in the life of the Window on Wild Lindisfarne

We invite volunteers and others who work with the Reserve team to write pieces for this blog. Today we have a special blog post from one of our volunteer guides, David, giving an insight into what it is like to be a guide on Lindisfarne NNR. David explains how the Reserve, normally busy with visitors, can have quiet days too!

David tells us:

“The afternoon of Tuesday 21st January was sunny and almost still but cold. The Window on Wild Lindisfarne building was very busy both inside and out. Visitors arrived at the rate of 45 adults per hour plus children and dogs. Several couples, some with babies were staying on the Island and all the rest bar one couple were from a distance, all from further south than Newcastle. Lots of birds enjoying the flooded scrape. About 100 each of Brent geese, curlew, teal and lapwing. They were mostly on the scrape but commuted to the next door field to the west. Plus lots of gulls and starlings. Having packed up, I walked round the water's edge to the Lookout on Wild Lindisfarne (old Coastguard Tower) to discover that the Brent geese had flown over the building just as far as the shoreline in the harbour near the upturned boats.

Drake teal: Europe's smallest duck, and one of our most beautiful, can be seen from the Window on Wild Lindisfarne throughout the winter

However, on the following Monday afternoon (27th) it was all together different. Cold, wet and very windy. Like a chump I misread the tide tables and arrived early for the safe crossing but it was very interesting to watch both humans and birds during my wait of about 30 minutes! Having stopped close to the water's edge on the causeway there were lots of birds to see. Many small groups of shelduck flew over southwards at about 20 metres height. About 10 each of oystercatchers and curlew paddled about. A huge flock of small waders flew about like a murmuration of starlings but I couldn't identify them. Amazingly, there was a long straight line of Brent geese parallel to the causeway about 500 metres to the north (I set up the telescope) and every so often about 25 would take off and fly south over me, very close, at about 5 metres height. Some of the humans were impatient. By now there were 2 white vans and 4 cars waiting to drive over to the Island. One car driver set off into the water which soon covered the wheels and he very, very quickly reversed out.

Flock of oystercatcher: these striking birds can be seen from the causeway

On reaching the Window building there were only gulls on the scrape and they promptly took off and then no birds (or people) for an hour. I gave up to go home and it was really windy outside, hence the lack of people and indeed, the main car park had only 2 cars in it as I left!”

David, and our other volunteers who act as guides in the Window on Wild Lindisfarne, do a fantastic job of informing visitors about the amazing wildlife of Lindisfarne NNR. David's story shows how dedicated they are, and that even on bad weather days there is still much to see on the Reserve!

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