News from Holy Island hikes

Birds on the move

It's that time of year when birds are on the move in large flocks and singly. Holy Island is a migration hotspot and this year has certainly not disappointed. Some birds just drop by for a rest before making their way inland. Others make their winter home with us.

On a pilgrims way walk across the sands two days ago we saw large flocks of brent geese, small dunlin, knots and mixed flocks of bartailed godwits and oyster catchers. The golden plovers which had been their previously seemed to have moved on. Of course the seals were singing to us as they do most of the year. I do this walk a lot but I never tire of it because there's always something different to see.

Passing through the farmland on a sand dune and shore walk there was a huge influx of thrushes from Scandinavia - redwings and fieldfares. There's also solitary birds, short eared owls quartering the fields and a solitary tame snow bunting working the paths.

We also see an influx of bird watchers at this time carrying thousands of pounds worth of optics. They'll stand for hours round a sycamore tree in the village or a hawthorn bush in the lonnen because there's a small brown bird hiding in it. I don't have the patience but I recently joined a group for a few minutes. A frisson of excitement ran through them, their scopes and cameras pointed to a certain spot and as I moved my bins to the same place I saw a yellow browed warbler. This is a lovely little bird with creamy white brow and wing stripes and I was delighted to see it but the real birders had done all the preparatory work!

Mary Gunn, 26th October 2018