Holy Island, Northumbria


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Holy Island, Northumbria

  • Two visits to Holy Island, the first with Mike and Jim and then returning again on Wednesday with Mike when the weather was better during the afternoon with blue sky and sunshine.    It is a lovely area to explore and full of bird song and species like Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Chiffchaff, Kestrel, Stonechat, Pied Wagtail etc,  along with the regular starlings, chaffinches, blackbirds ,....

    When we went on the Monday with Jim we saw at least 40 what I think were R.B.Mergansers flying in to the shoreline but it was pretty cloudy at the time and I have just record shots.     Oycs were out on the coast too, Eiders and Cormorant.   There was group of grey seals on the distant sand-bank.     Here are a selection of photos taken on both days;  the better photos were taken on the Wednesday when the sun shone. 

    (Monday pics)   

    first, this was how we felt about the weather    lol  …………...

    Hard to believe other parts of the country were getting 24 - 26 degrees !    We were around 14 degrees with strong breeze :(

    View from Holy Island towards Bamburgh Castle (far left)

    a blue crab on the shore, sadly this did not appear to be alive 

    snails sunbathing on the rock !

    record shot of the R.B.Mergansers;     Jim walked down to the edge of the water so has close up shots of these birds.

    Bar tailed Godwits (thanks for ID Paul)      Sorry about the dismal pics, it was a miserable sky !

    I will leave the scenic/church/priory/abbey shots to Jim plus other species and now fill in with Wednesday's pics:

    Much sunnier day and warm :)    so here's the difference in pics …..

    starting with the humble but beautiful Starling in flight which was back and forth feeding it's fledglings

    handsome male Reed Bunting with a tasty morsel for his chicks 

    there were so many Skylark and Meadow Pipits but hard IDing them when the crest wasn't up on the Skylark !  they were both sky-dancing and singing 

    I'm still having trouble determining Skylark from Meadow Pipit although I look for the long hind claw on the Mipit.    Both birds were present and it was easier to ID them when they were in song.   

    Will list pics and let you decide who is who ! 

    same bird again ….  I thought possibly Skylark ?

    Skylark again then as outer tail feathers are white !     doing the sky-dance and then dropping down 

    I stood for more than an hour just watching these beautiful birds perform their sky-dancing and song, it was truly magical

    I only had the 300mm for reach

    A wild rabbit checking the tyre pressure …..

      Skylark carrying food for offspring or display ! 


    Meadow pipit ?

    this will do for now as Jim will also have pics once he regains his internet connection. 

  • It's a shame you didn't have nice weather Hazel it looks a lovely area.

    The bird in flight with a morsel is a Skylark..I look for the eye marking that make it look like it has glasses on, I suspect the majority of the others are Meadow Pipits.

    In flight Skylarks soar high while singing while Meadow Pipits parachute down.

  • Alan
    The bird in flight with a morsel is a Skylark..I look for the eye marking that make it look like it has glasses on

      Thanks Alan,  that's a great and useful tip.     Unless I hear the song or see the long claw or a raised crest or them next to one another I have difficulty !     

  • I love the grumpy dog which sums up just how you felt. Such a shame the weather was so poor but at least the last day was brighter.

    Lovely shots of the pipits, larks etc. Another tip to ID Skylarks is that the outer feathers on the tail are white .... if you can see them of course.

  • Cheers Tony,  the ID tips are really useful to have, many thanks.

  • Lovely set of shots, Hazel. In addition to Alan & Tony’s Skylark ID tips also look for a somewhat heavier bill on the Skylark. Your Godwit’s are Bar-tailed (if you can’t see the wing markings in flight look for the shorter legs of the Bar-tails; Black-tails legs protrude much more out from the end of the tail). For Bar-tails in flight I always think ‘You can see everything, bar the feet’. :-)

  • Oooh, many thanks Paul, it's good to know what to look for on the Skylark.    Also thrilled they were Bar-tails as I've only ever seen one or two before !    

    Paul A
    ‘You can see everything, bar the feet’. :-)

      LOL  !! 

  • Very witty, Paul

  • I took a few photos on my iPhone of the area around Holy Island

    the sand dunes resemble mountains in the Himalayas  lol     (Mike on top of one of them - beach and sea on other side of the mounds)

    the coastline near the grassed Himalayas !

    you felt like you could get lost amongst the dunes ! 

    a wonderful show of Poppy flowers 

    We didn't visit the priory, opting to spend our time wandering around the island for birds/wildlife 

    this was on the grey dark Monday with Lindisfarne Castle in the distance

    Inside the church of St. Mary the Virgin

    sculpture by Fenwick Lawson depicting the journey undertaken by the monks of Lindisfarne, carrying St. Cuthbert's coffin, after they left the island in 875

    Was difficult for photos as it was very dark inside the church and you were not allowed to use flash.

    The Altar 

    and here endeth the lesson   !! 

  • No Cuddy Duck pictures ? Great set and it is a fabulous place to visit - apparently its even better if you stay overnight there as its obviously so much quieter for wildlife when the tide is in - I must try it myself sometime.

    Another tip for Skylark is that wing profile with the big gap between wing and body, I believe that is a good tip for Skylark.

    For the Godwits you had the best clue of no protruding legs but Bklack Tailed have a bright white underwing and a white wing bar on top of wing.

  • Fabulous set of photos Hazy, and great to read the advice from all the experts, I'm going back and fore trying to get it into my head.   Glad you had some good weather in the end.   Holy Island looks a lovely isolated place, love the pics of the beach and the Poppies, and inside the Church is beautiful.  

  • Hazel, Your lovely photos bring back happy memories--thanks.  It is a beautiful area and there is something very appealing about smallish islands.  Shame about the weather on your first day on Holy Island, but at least you had sun on the second day despite the cold temperatures.

    Alan, Paul, Tony and Bob, Thanks for the ID tips.  I've only ever seen a Skylark hovering high overhead, never close up.  As for Mipits, many years ago we had a Meadow Pipit visiting our lawn, giving us a good view of one of those.

  • thanks all and for the extra ID tips on the Godwits.    

    @ Bob, the Cuddy's at Seahouses jetty are on the video thread.

    @ Ann,  I was sitting on the ground surrounded by the Eiders - it was an experience as they brought their chicks !    you can just see my foot I the pics.

  • Superb photos, of a lovely island, and it's wildlife.

    I've only ever been to Holy Island (Lindisfarne) once, on a sunny, but windswept October day.

    It was a fabulous island, and the drive along the causeway was brilliant.

    Lindisfarne Castle (Nat Trust) is a fantastic place to wander around. Sadly because of the tide, we never got to the abbey. One day we will...

  • A bit of sun does make a difference, doesn't it! Some lovely photos. Oddly enough, I never thought of a difficulty between Larks and Pipits until I started to see them more often and in areas where both are common. Then, you can start to wonder exactly what you've seen especially if it has just sat quietly in the grass!

    Those Himalaya look just a little bit lower than the ones I went up many years ago!