Dodging the showers; Lindisfarne Safari 09/08/16

by on Aug.10, 2016, under Holy Island

The unpredictability of the weather in northern England is one of the reasons I love living here.  Early August and you just don’t know whether there’ll be clear skies and sunshine, or something akin to the depths of the autumn…

I arrived at Kingston Park and met up with Chris (for his third trip with NEWT), Diane and Robin and we headed up the A1 to Berwick where we collected Gill (for her second trip with NEWT in a week).  Our first destination was the Holy Island causeway, where we found a Common Seal, Little Egret, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, a distant dense flock of Golden Plover and a few Whimbrel (including one bird that was obligingly standing next to a Curlew).  A sudden increase in wind strength heralded the arrival of the first rain shower of the day, and a noticeable drop in temperature.  Thinking that the poor weather was going to move through earlier than forecast I decided to switch around the plan for the rest of the day and we headed down the coast where we watched Sandwich Terns, Gannets and masses of gulls feeding as Fulmars soared past us on stiff wings, effortless in the breeze.  Rafts of Eider were just beyond the breaking surf as a female Goosander sat preening on the edge of a rockpool and Knot and Turnstone rummaged in the seaweed exposed on the falling tide.  Back to scanning the mudflats and Grey Plover joined the days wader list and Grey Seals called mournfully from exposed sandbanks before we crossed over onto Holy Island with the weather showing signs of improvement.  An adult Mediterranean Gull was an unexpected find in the car park and we set off to walk around the bits of the island that weren’t busy with visitors…

Grey Herons, Little Grebes and Moorhen were around the edges of the Lough as a Reed Warbler delivered it’s rhythmic chuntering song from a hidden perch in the reeds and the rest of our walk produced Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, a juvenile Kestrel, Cinnabar moth caterpillars and, probably the bird of the day, a Short-eared Owl quartering the dunes and fields with impressively slow deep wingbeats 🙂

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3 Comments for this entry

  • Gill

    Thanks for another fine day out. That short-eared owl was lovely to see, not to mention the fascinating dune flora, including Grass of Parnassus. Will have to return for another trip sometime when the orchids are still flowering.

  • Diane

    Really enjoyable day on my safari with Northern Experience – a 70th birthday gift from a few friends, including Chris who was one of my fellow trippers. And by bizarre coincidence, given that there were only four of us, I also know Robin. Less than great weather – it could have been lot worse, but it was a little grey. I’ve often been to Holy Island – for walking, swimming, picnics and art and sound projects, and I’ve always loved the visits, but I’d never been to a bird hide on the island before. Martin’s incredibly extensive knowledge of birds and botany made the trip really fascinating. Although I didn’t see a lot of the birds he heard or spotted, as I’ve never been able to manage binoculars, but I did take advantage of Martin’s telescope at times and it was great to see the long parade of seals on the sand bars as well as some birds.

    A good lunch was provided and congenial company too. Some interesting conversations during the day, including a different perspective on the environmental impact of open-cast mining. Might be worth you blogging that sometime Martin if you have a few minutes to spare – and if you’re prepared to go public with it…

    I’d already forgotten the name of the beautiful white flowers that were quite prolific in the dunes – but was reminded by Gill’s post – Grass of Parnassus.

    Thanks – highly recommended!

  • Robin

    The weather was challenging but brightened up later and we were all so enthralled that we scarcely noticed.
    I’m not an experienced birdie so the entire day was a revelation to me. How had I not seen all these birds before when I am often up along the Northumberland Coast? They were there of course but without someone like Martin to point them out one doesn’t spot them. I started to write them all down but couldn’t write fast enough and then the rain came and the ink on the page ran…
    Thanks Martin for a great day. I’ll definitely join you again.
    Robin

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