|A BIT FROM ME
Welcome to our May edition of our 'stay-in-touch-ezine.
Somewhere in the UK they reported that storm 'Hanna' swept across
us - but for us the fine weather seems to continue.. Perhaps you
were amongst those who crowded onto the island over the Easter
period. I hope you managed to find a place to park.
Our last edition cautioned on the need to check the
causeway crossing times. Despite this, yet again a couple of visitors
have been caught out. Please - please check and check again the
causway open-times. But these tidal predictions are based mainly on
variations in the moon's gravitational attraction which cannot take
into account the significant diffences that local weather
factors can produce. And if you are thinking of waiting to watch the
tide close this might be far different to that predicted. Please
park safely away from the bridge and turning circles or where you
might impede drivers, perhaps with better local tidal-knowledge
(coastguards and residents) attempting to cross. The causeway
is the island's only access road and not a place
to heedlessly wander. It is also a very remote area indeed - so
if you feel there might be a problem developing do phone '999' and
speak to the coastguard.
We normally respect and protect the privacy
of residents. However, as well as being a popular member of the
community Gary ('Island Store') became known to huge numbers of
visitors who would have called in his shop. Having sought the permission of his
family, it is with sadness I announce the death of this treasured
member of our community who died on Thursday 18th April 2019. As
well as warming to his natural friendly manner you may well have
attended one of the special village services at St Mary's where
he excelled as an organist. We offer our sympathy to his family and
their many friends. Rest in peace dear Gary.
Thank you to Sr Margo Colman who writes:
You all must still be in shock. Gary
was a very special person. Over the years that I've been
coming to the island (since around 2001), Gary always had a warm
greeting, always smiling. When there recently, in February,
before I had to leave, I gave him a hug and told him how
much he was loved by you all, and was he aware of
He just shrugged his
shoulders and said, "I'm just being me."
Please know you all are being held in
our prayers every day.
Community St John
Mendham, NJ USA
On a happier note - we hear that a close friend of Gary's family,
David O'Connor, has just been presented with the British Empire
Medal for community and voluntary service. In addition to his key
role in the development of our new village hall, David worked
as English Nature's manager of the Lindisfarne Reserve for many
years. Congratulations to David and thanks from all of us.
ED: David will not welcome me mentioning this acclaim - but
it really did need saying!
Thank you to David and all our contributors
- this time
particular to Sarah for supplying her lovely Easter pictures.
Enjoy our newsletter and we look forward to getting in touch
again in June.
Stop Press (from our Natural Enland
Hi there Geoff,
a wee note to let you know that I will be leaving Lindisfarne NNR in
a few weeks' time for a new role with the National Trust for
Scotland. I've written up a handover for the new Reserve Manager who
will I think be the new contact for the Reserve writing the zine
updates. His name is Andy and I'm sure he'll be in touch to
introduce himself soon. In the meantime, the contact for the update
would be Senior Reserve Manager Andrew Craggs.
ED: So sorry to hear that you're
leaving.On behalf of us and our readers thank you so much for
your monthly updates. You will certainly be a hard act to
follow. The very best of luck in your new role over the
I look forward to reading your newsletter each month, with
I live in New Zealand, I remember going to Holy Island, many
moons ago, with my parents and three brothers as a child in the
60's, I may have been 6 or 7.
I visited England in 2017. staying in North Yorkshire, that is
where we come from. We visited other towns and villages and tried so
hard to get to Holy Island. So close yet so far away.We just ran out
of time, so much to see and do. Or maybe we just didn't
organize our travelling.
I loved your article with the 'Rolling of the Easter Eggs'. I
remember painting our eggs and rolling them part way down Roseberry
Topping in Yorkshire. We don't do things like that over here, this
country can be so far behind.
So many memories. One day I will be back, hopefully to live.
Best wishes, can't wait to read the next one.
ED: Hello Julie and thank you for this nice email. Us
Yorkshire-folk get do seem to turn up everywhere!
Hi Geoff was just up last week - when sadly there was the fire in
Took a couple of photos of useful to you.
ED: Hello Livia. Thank you for the pics
and we are all reassured by the efforts of our local fire
brigade. What a shame it became too 'red tape' for islanders to
run our own engine. But while no longer on the
island, Aunty Margaret is often remembered and her lovely
A villager reminds us
|HOLY ISLAND CofE FIRST SCHOOL
Hasn't April flown by!
Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella had a very enjoyable week before school
closed for the Easter holidays. Did you see them hopping home
wearing their Easter bunny and chick masks and tails? We had great
fun using our design and technology skills putting the masks
together and the role play that followed was excellent! The girls
made Easter nests with chocolate and corn-flakes and we worked
scientifically to see how the chocolate changed when it was
We are reluctant to take down our lovely Easter display - so much
work went into making three scenes from the Easter story which we
are very proudly displaying in our windows. We also made and
decorated an Easter tree using willow from the schoolhouse garden.
The children took part in our Easter service at St John the
Baptist's Church, Lowick, led by Revd Sarah Hills where we welcomed
parents and members of the community. The percussion instruments we
used during the chorus of Sing Hosanna (Give Me Oil in My Lamp) were
played with much enthusiasm!
We have been studying the life of St Cuthbert and we are
delighted that there is a display of the children's work in St
Mary's Church. The Lowick and Holy Island display features some
super examples of art, geography and history along with biographies
and re-telling of some of the stories about Cuthbert's connection
We are continuing to improve our
outside area - we will be re-surfacing the playground shortly and
will be adding a sand pit and a mud kitchen very soon. We have
recently planted a meadow area along the side of the field which we
hope will attract bees and butterflies.
You might have noticed our two new planters outside the school.
They are the result of the hard work and dedication of Karen Ward,
our teaching assistant and school caretaker - Karen and her husband,
Richard, upcycled these from an old arbour that was no longer in
use. Thank you Karen and Richard - we now have a home for our sweet
peas. We are looking forward to seeing how tall our newly planted
sunflowers get - Scarlett-Beau and Lily Ella will be measuring them
every week and recording the results in their sunflower diaries.
We moved our wildlife camera to an interesting spot along
Straight Lonnen and last week we were delighted to see that we have
images of a very inquisitive Roe Deer. It came up very close to the
We have lots to look forward to this term including a visit to
the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh and the Great North Museum in
Newcastle to see the huge diplodocus skeleton. I'm sure there'll be
lots to tell you about next time!
Holy Island Church of England First
|THE CROSSMAN HALL
The early part of the month was
dedicated to maintenance and cleaning in readiness for a busy Easter
Period and DL re-varnished the Tinko & Clive memorial seat and
frightened the first crop of weeds.
The two Cherry Trees planted last year produced a fine floral
display, but it wasn't until after min-month that the swallows
became noticeable and terns were heard call in the dusk over the
Several Roe were grazing on the Snook Flats and a Hare was seen
near the Snook Tower. At last spring has sprung! And Easter Weekend
enjoyed warm weather.
There has been a fair volume of admin work to wade through,
including sorting out the paperwork required to produce last year's
accounts. Also working with our Webmaster to develop a new Crossman
Hall website, that will be up and running soon! Time was spent
working out the seating plan for a pre-nuptial feast and celebration
held at the end of the month.
The Coffee Morning was a great success and without the huge
support from Islanders who produced cakes and sticky buns, raffle
prizes and quality bric-a-brac that would have graced the Antiques
The Coffee Morning raised c. £950.00 for our Hall Fund. Thanks to
all providers of goods, helpers and spenders. A list of raffle prize
winners is display in the Hall window adjacent to the front door.
Again thank you all.
Finally, please don't forget James Douglas's charity run
in the Berlin Marathon, 29 September 2019. James is fund
raising for Cancer Research and his fund raising page on Cancer
Research website is 593.
All sponsorship is welcome, if you are not internet user, cheques
can be sent C/o Crossman Hall, Holy Island and we will pass them on
The next Coffee Morning, in aid of St Mary's, our Parish Church,
will be held in the Hall on Monday 27 May 2019.
Beal Shore Tide Tables - Who shares a Duty of Care - For
this high risk zone?
Historically there has been a need for visitors to pull over and
consult safe crossing times for Island visits. Recent developments
that have reduced the road width have, as I predicted created a high
risk situation for all Causeway users.
Easter saw a period of fine weather and that brought a high
number of visitors. There was significant congestion around Beal
Shore much of the time. For significant periods traffic was reduced
to single file because vehicles were parked on both sides of the
road. That combined with cyclist's, pedestrians and passengers
milling about viewing and photographing the tide-tables
significantly increased the accident risk.
I suggest that those responsible for increasing the foreseeable
danger at this location, in event of an incident, will bear some
culpability because of the introduction of restrictive barriers and
the lack of negotiation to have the historic situation restored.
David - email@example.com
|ARCTIC TERNS - BIRDS OF PERPETUAL DAYLIGHT
One of the species I most look
forward to seeing and hearing in May is the Arctic Tern, a bird with
a spectacular and unique lifestyle.
Not only does it make the longest migration of any of our summer
visitors, it also enjoys more hours of daylight and sunshine than
any other creature on the planet.
Our local birds began returning in late April and have already
taken up territory and started their breeding rituals on the small
colony on the Black Law which they share with Common Terns and the
internationally threatened Little Terns.
This means that from now on they'll be a very familiar sight off
the island, particularly as they fly out on fishing expeditions and
return carrying small and gleaming Sand Eels for their waiting
With dazzling white and silver plumage, black caps and long tail
streamers, they're among the most graceful of seabirds. They move
with a buoyant and seemingly effortless bouncing flight and feed by
plunging headlong into the sea.
Many travel over 22,000 miles on migration annually, a lifestyle
that enables them to live most of their lives in perpetual daylight,
although it has to be said that our local birds have to tolerate a
few short hours summer darkness.
Although small, slender and seemingly delicate, they are also
long-lived. The oldest recorded is 31 years old but many survive for
25 years or more. In that quarter of a century, they'll have
travelled well over 500,000 miles on migration alone. In addition,
they'll have covered many more thousands of miles while fishing
around their breeding colonies and in their Southern Ocean wintering
For those who like statistics, that means that a bird which
survives 25 years will have on migration alone flown the equivalent
of going to the Moon and back.
These beautiful little seabirds have their migration timed to
perfection. They arrive just as the hours of daylight are rapidly
lengthening. They lay their eggs, raise their chicks and are off
southwards during August and September, just as our days are
shortening. A few stragglers remain into October.
|An Arctic Tern hovering to search for tiny
fish in the shallows Photo: Mike S Hodgson
Our Lindisfarne colony is the smallest of four breeding sites in
Northumberland. But this year for the first time, it will be
continuously monitored by a camera system installed by my colleague
Max Whitby. This will provide a live feed for Natural England, even
at night when it will switch to infra-red. It will enable a close
watch and help identify any threats from predators or weather.
There's another much bigger colony on Inner Farne with around
1,800 pairs. That's where many thousands of visitors who use the
walkway from the pier on Inner Farne have every reason to be very
familiar with Arctic Terns.
Although weighing just four ounces, they're the angry, chattering
bundles of winged fury capable of drawing blood from any unguarded
head in the defence of their eggs or chicks. Quite appropriately,
their bills are blood red.
The island path runs straight through the colony which is why all
visitors are strongly advised to cover their heads. It's also why
island rangers use hard hats more familiar on building sites than on
one of Britain's most famous nature reserves. First-time visitors
always tell me that the aggressive welcome they receive if often,
apart from perhaps the Puffins, the highlight of their day. It's
certainly something they're unlikely to forget.
There's another colony on Coquet Island where they have a much
more peaceful life as visitors aren't allowed. Last year it had
1,240 pairs. The fourth colony and Britain's largest mainland site,
is at the Long Nanny Burn on Beadnell Bay and is home to around
As their name implies, Arctic Terns are a northern species. Our
Northumberland colonies are their most southerly outposts.
Many more breed around Scotland and much further northwards on the
Arctic coasts of Scandinavia, Russia and Canada. There they are
truly inhabitants of the Lands of the Midnight Sun.
After breeding, the entire European population migrates down the
coasts of Africa and on into the Southern Ocean right up to the edge
of the pack ices of Antarctica. North American birds make a similar
journey down the coasts of South America.
The terns arrive in their wintering areas just in time for the
southern summer, again enjoying its perpetual daylight and a super
abundance of small fish.
Over the decades many thousands of Arctic Terns have been ringed,
mainly on the Farnes where the species has bred since at least the
18th Century. Local birds have turned up in other breeding colonies
in Scotland, Germany and Denmark. Other ringed birds have been
recovered along the coasts of Africa and in the Indian Ocean.
One nestling marked on the Farnes was found aboard a ship in
Antarctica just five months later. There are also recoveries from
Australia, a four-year-old found dead in New South Wales and, even
more amazing, one found in Melbourne only four months after being
ringed. Other recoveries have come from New Zealand.
There are even a couple of recoveries from the Ural mountains in
Russia, indicating that they were attempting to migrate northwards
by taking an overland route, a fatal mistake for a seabird relying
on small saltwater fish.
The breeding populations of our Northumberland terns seem to be
stable at the moment, thanks to a continued presence in local waters
of Sand Eels. But around northern Scotland populations have been
decimated over the past couple of decades by a shortage or even
complete absence of this vital food.
Both commercial overfishing of Sand Eels and the slight rise in
sea temperatures as part of global warming have been
implicated. With threats like that, perhaps we'd best just
enjoy our Arctic Terns while they are still with
First of all Happy Easter to you. I
trust you have had a quiet and reflective weekend? The Castle was
busy as usual; I suspect the lure of the chocolate eggs was partly
responsible but the warm weather can't have hurt. People seem to be
enjoying the new exhibition up here, and I know several island
residents who came up for a private viewing earlier in the month
enjoyed it too. Thank you to those of you who came up, it was so
nice to have so many folk at such a gathering. The only downside was
that I was expecting there to be more left-over scones... can't have
everything I suppose. Incidentally I meant to have a load of
resident's passes out that day and forgot - if you are an island
resident and haven't collected your pass then do let me know; I can
pop one in the post or leave it at the NT shop for collection.
Speaking of residents I wonder if anyone remembers David Ridley,
the first NT custodian of Lindisfarne? I have recently been in touch
with his now ex-wife Colleen (who may also be remembered by some).
It has been fascinating getting her reminiscences of life here in
the late 1960s/early 1970s - which was quite a significant time here
in that the last private tenant Gladys de Stein had died in 1968 so
the NT were opening the place up fully for the first time.
Unfortunately Colleen told me that David passed away a few weeks ago
down in Hexham, and so I said I would mention it to anyone who may
have known him while he was here. I know he did a lot of good here
at the Castle so it was sad to hear he had died.
Just after the Island Times went to print last month we had a
fascinating oral history recording session with Collin Teago, Andrew
Hodgson, and 96 year old Jack Hope. Jack was born at Snook House but
moved out to the Goswick Fishery soon after. He went on to serve
aboard the minesweepers in the war and later had a long career as a
National Park Ranger. It really was a pleasure to sit in on the
recording and hear some of the tales being told. The purpose of
these sessions isn't necessarily to use them in visitor
interpretation but that might happen down the line, mainly it is
about securing these stories for posterity and we were fortunate
enough to have the recording equipment and the help of Claire Newton
to make this all happen. The recordings will all end up in the
British Library which I'm sure you'll agree is a comforting thought.
Eagle-eyed passers-by on the headland may have noticed a post and
rope fence has appeared just near the Lime Kilns. This is an attempt
to secure a small nesting area for shorebirds such as Golden Plover
and Oystercatchers, whose main difficulty in nesting comes with
human disturbance. Although a trial this year, we are hoping that if
successful it might be something we run more regularly to give these
birds a good nesting option on Holy Island, on what is an ideal
habitat for them on the shingle beach. We are still waiting on some
signage to improve the message to the public, but it should make an
interesting addition to what is on offer here as well as the core
conservation basis the site has..
|NATURAL ENGLAND LINDISFARNE NNR
|Ringed Plover Chick on Norfolk beach © Kevin
The sun came out for Easter, bringing with it many of our summer
migrants. From the shore, the white shapes of sandwich terns can be
seen fluttering high and then diving deep into the sea. The first
wheatears have been spotted - few in number, so far, but a lovely
sight. Swallows fly their long pennant tail feathers over the Lough.
In the dunes, skylarks and meadow pipits are nesting and the song
of the skylark is the sound of a sunny day in duneland, as it once
was for farms. The collective noun for skylarks is 'an exaltation',
and it is easy to see - or hear - why they have inspired poets and
musicians for centuries.
In the wet dune slacks, tapioca-like frogspawn has developed into
merrily wriggling tadpoles. Roe deer are a frequent sight in the
dunes and fields on Holy Island. We have been busy as ever with
monitoring, with Wetland Bird Surveys, Breeding Bird Surveys and
Farmland Bird Surveys giving ample opportunity to enjoy the
We continue also to monitor the spread of Corella eumyota, the
Orange-tipped Sea Squirt, although no removal will be conducted in
the summer months as this is when the invasive invertebrate is
suspected to be most likely to reproduce.
Returning also to our shores are little terns - a delightful
seabird that travels all the way from West Africa to breed on the
NNR. Little terns are the second rarest nesting seabird in the UK.
Along with the charismatic ringed plover, they have adapted to nest
on sandy shores - a precarious environment where they have found
Unfortunately, the breeding success of both these species is in
decline. The major factor in this decline is human and dog
disturbance - it is so easy for a stray foot or paw to unknowingly
crush an egg, or for human presence to scare the birds so that they
abandon their eggs.
From May until the beginning of August, wardens will be
protecting nesting areas across the Reserve - monitoring the birds
and talking to members of the public. We ask people please to
respect the signage and the restricted areas, to keep dogs on a
short lead on the Reserve, and to walk on the wet sand where
Keep your eyes peeled and you may spot the ringed plover chicks -
beetling along quickly like pom-poms on stilts. Or glimpse a bright
white little tern with a silver sand-eel in its mouth, returning to
feed its mate. It's a special time of year, and we look forward to
another shorebird season.
Finally, we are delighted to welcome some new members to the
Lindisfarne NNR team - we have recruited a new Reserve Manager and
two new Shorebird Wardens. We look forward to introducing our new
colleagues in next month's update!
Lindisfarne & Newham NNRs
|FROM FORD & ETAL
05-May Springtime with the Heavies, Hay
Farm Heavy Horse Centre.
06-May/27-May Bank Holiday Bubble Trains, Heatherslaw Light
06-May/27 May Pop up Market, Etal Village Hall, 11am-3pm
12-May North Northumberland Bird Club Annual Dawn Chorus
Walk. Open to non-members for a small donation, this is a
wonderful opportunity to get out and about in our beautiful
countryside, and to learn something about the birds in the area. The
walk is open to NNBC members, with non-members welcome for a small
donation to the Club. Meeting point to be
confirmed. Please ensure that you wear suitable
27-29 May Kids Baking Sessions, Heatherslaw Cornmill at
11.30 and 2.30; pre-booking advisable. Tel 01890 820338 or
Details of all the above can be found at www.ford-and-etal.co.uk
|FROM THE COMMUNITY OF AIDAN AND HILDA
The previous owner of The Open Gate, Alan Robertson, came across
a framed copy of the original sale document dated from the reign of
Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1568 while he was clearing out his house.
He has presented this to the Open Gate together with a typed list of
some 25 transactions since then.
The document begins 'Henry Haggerston of Haggerston Gentilman
standing seised in fee simple viz to hym and his haires for ever off
and in burgage or tenemente with a garthe and there appurtinaunces
in Hooly Islande etc and so seised did sell gyfe and graunte the sam
burgaige or howse with the garth and thappurtinaunces unto Thomas
Patterson and his haires... Dated the late of September in the X
yeare of Quene Elizabeth.'
Last month I was invited to the Round Tower Hotel, Ardmore,
Ireland. The organisers have created an Irish Camino, and a web
site. Five of its twelve Pilgrim Paths, each named after a
local saint, are now fully signed and certificated and form the
Camino. You can read all about this on www.pilgrimpath.ie
St. Declan's Path, from Cashel to Ardmore, where Declan had his
monastery before St. Patrick and where a round tower beckons
pilgrims to his cave and well, is the latest path to be completed. I
met with a special group of St. Declan's Way Pilgrims. They don't
just want to walk the path in five stages once a year, they want to
walk the inner pilgrimage every day of their lives. They
wanted to learn from the story of the Community of Aidan and Hilda
how they might embrace a rule of life that enables them to become
inner pilgrims, and find soul friends and resources.
Following the Holy Week and the Walks around Holy Island retreats
at The Open Gate we will have retreats on Looking at the Birds,
Divine Mysticism and Saints and Seabirds.
|FROM THE VICARAGE
||Rev Canon Dr Sarah
Happy Easter! I hope you have had a joyful and blessed time.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
We have had a wonderful Holy Week and Easter at St. Mary's. Thank
you to all those who helped with the services in many different ways
and to those who came and worshipped. A special thank you to the
ladies who decorated the church so beautifully and made it look so
festive! It was also a time tinged with sadness as Gary Watson
passed away on Maundy Thursday. Our hearts are with Lynn and all his
family and friends. It was a privilege to be able to dedicate the
service on Maundy Thursday to Gary.
I write, spring seems to be here, and we look forward to
what the next months will bring. We will be welcoming Bishop Christine
to the Island on Saturday May 25th for Evening prayer at 5pm as
she completes the St Oswald's Way. Bishop Christine is also taking our Sunday
10.45am service for us that weekend.
We also have our church coffee morning on Bank Holiday Monday,
May 27th. Do join us!