Trip reports

Lindisfarne & Holy Island NNR

Lindisfarne & Holy Island NNR

Sunday, 28 September 2014

This wonderful autumn gave us a warm, calm day, with great visibility.
Scanning the mudflats from the Causeway, skylarks were overhead, with mute swan and curlew feeding. From the coach park Brian spotted a brambling in the sycamores, and house sparrows were everywhere, "chatting", scrapping and dust-bathing.
The usually quiet area near the vicarage garden, often a productive place to start, was disturbed by a sponsored walk - only a chiffchaff seemed determined to sit it out! 8 light-bellied Brent geese were feeding on the flats of Budle Bay, with swirling flocks of golden plover and knot flying in. Other waders included oystercatchers, redshank and grey plover, one still in striking summer plumage. Eider, locally known as Cuddy's (Cuthbert's), duck, were, appropriately, on St Cuthbert's Island, along with a grey heron and a passing red-breasted merganser.
On the Heugh we enjoyed panoramic views from the refurbished Coastguard tower, observing cormorant, shelduck, goosander, dunlin, black- and bar-tailed godwit, 3 varieties of gull, and a reed bunting was heard. But perhaps the most striking experience was the plaintive "song" of grey seals hauled up on the sands.
By the Ouse we added ring plover, and in the small orchard a "wisp" of 15 snipe were clearly visible. From the new observation building overlooking the rocket field and pool, teal, lapwing, common gull, carrion crow and goldfinch were seen, with a single barnacle goose only occasionally looking up. Possibly it was keen to feed and continue on its journey as only a few hundred of the thousands of barnacles that pass through remain in the area, most heading to Caerlaverock.
Predictably woodpigeon, collared dove, and large numbers of robin, probably some overwintering from Northern Europe, were seen around the village.
Members of the thrush family noted were song thrush and blackbird, but unusually no fieldfare or redwing given the profusion of berries; no doubt the mild weather was slowing migration. A barn swallow was still around, along with pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, chaffinch and jackdaw. Telegraph wires were festooned with starling, and fence wires and stones held a small flock of linnet.
Our afternoon circuit took in the lonnens, where a number of kestrel and 7 roe deer were seen. On the waggonway to the Lough, while watching stonechat, we focussed on a wall and found, side by side, stonechat, whinchat and a Greenland wheatear (leucorhoa) ..... a real highlight. Then a merlin flew past and we saw a meadow pipit escape its attention. Looking down, we found a very gravid female spider. Eppie's research identified this as an Araneus quadratus (4-spot orb), and it seems that they spend the winter in the egg phase.
After that excitement the pheasant, little grebe, moorhen, coot, mallard, pintail, shoveller and widgeon on or near the Lough were rather overshadowed.
Final sightings included turnstone, and a little egret on the causeway - the reserve has had a count of 27 little egret this year, the highest recorded.
Including common buzzard, magpie and rook noted en route we had a group list of 65 birds from a very enjoyable outing.
Val Donaldson

https://www.dropbox.com/s/54a47lk7jrj48bh/Coach%20Outing%20Lindisfarne%20%26%20Holy%20Island%20NNR%2028%20Sep%202014%20-%20final.pdf?dl=1