Monday, 9 January 2017

Grazers Scrub Up Well

Sheep doing a great job grazing the scrub on the Reserve.
Every winter we use grazing as a habitat management tool on Holy Island in order to open up the sward of vegetation within the dune system and reduce the impact of non-native invasive species like Pirri-pirri bur and Michaelmas daisy.  However, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership project this winter we have been able to expand the grazing activities on the island.   
The cattle have now left the NNR but the sheep are still nibbling away at the vegetation around the Snook.  This winter is seeing the most extensive grazing ever done on the Snook; the sheep have been out on areas which have never been grazed before.  As well as grazing on the grasses and non-native species such as Michaelmas daisy, the sheep have also been having a taste of some small pine and birch trees.
The benefits of this grazing regime can be seen in the spring and summer months when the wildflowers begin to bloom.  Between May and July orchids and other dune specialists can be seen flowering in the slacks of the Holy Island dune system; including Grass-of-Parnassus, pyramidal orchids, marsh orchid species and the endemic Lindisfarne helleborine. 

Pyramidal Orchid

Grass of Parnassus
By increasing the diversity of wildflowers on the island, day flying moth species like the Six-Spot Burnet moth and butterfly species such as the dark green fritillary will also thrive.  Other butterfly species you can look forward to seeing through the summer season include common blue, small heath, green-veined white, and ringlet – if you look extra hard you might be able to spot one of the well-camouflaged graylings. 

Dark Green Fritillary
Common Blue


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