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Holy Island

Holy Island which is part of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is a beautiful site to visit, with amazing panoramic views and fresh coastal air.  Holy Island is considered to be one of the best birdwatching sites in the County, with a large range of resident and visiting birds throughout the year.

The site is also a popular tourist destination so it can be very busy at times.  The island itself can only be accessed during low tides, so care is recommended and visitors are asked to check safe crossings times, prior to every visit.  There is a paid car park available just before you enter the main part of the island itself.

There is lots to explore on the island and there are a number of distinct areas.

One of which is known as ‘The Lough‘ which can be found beyond Lindisfarne Castle and before Emmanuel Head and it’s famous stone pyramid.  A new hide has recently been provided to replace a long-standing, familiar hide that was damaged in a storm.  The new hide provides stunning views of the Lough all year round.  A good selection of wildfowl can be found on the freshwater all year round.

During the spring/autumn birders can be seen along the ‘Straight Lonnen‘, which is a hotspot for migrants/vagrants which in 2016 included Red-backed and Great Grey Shrikes, Red-breasted Flycatcher and much more.

A Red-breasted Flycatcher
on Holy Island
by Jonathan Farooqi
in October 2016

Snipe Point‘ , ‘Coves Haven‘  and Emmanuel Head  can be a great spot for some Seawatching from which Skua’s and Shearwaters can be seen easily at times with a telescope.

The ‘Rocket Field‘ is a popular destination for waders, which in recent years have included Temminck’s Stint.

At times Glaucous and Iceland Gulls have been found visiting the ‘The Harbour’, whilst the nearby ‘St Cuthberts Island’ usually hosts roasting waders during high tide.

To the right
A Whites Thrush
on Holy Island
By Tim Dean
in October 2016

Holy Island boasts an impressive list of rarities over the years, with 2016 proving to be a particularly good year.  Highlights included Whites Thrush, Thrush Nightingale, Pallas’s Warbler and Isabeline Shrike, Isabelle Wheatear and Western Subalpine Warbler.


To the left
A Subalpine Warbler
on Holy Island
By Jonathan Farooqi
in February 2016

During the winters months, thousands of Brent and Barnacle Geese can be found along the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve.  The reserve also attracts a wide variety of waders and in large numbers.  You can also find Roe Deer; and Grey Seals can be seen offshore.

The Birds of Holy Island by Ian Kerr – Updated 2017

“For anyone planning a visit the book will be an invaluable guide to appreciating the unique landscape, its special place and the profusion of rare birds that makes the area such a magnet. For anyone who loves Holy Island and its wild birds, this engaging and extremely knowledgeable account offers a lasting memory of Northumberland’s greatest natural treasure.”

Click here to

A total of 330 species of birds are included. The new book also contains anecdotes with a wildlife theme, new and fascinating details about the island’s natural history and the 19th and early 20th century characters who were involved in it. Particularly illuminating are views expressed by some characters about the situation in the post-war period which led to the establishment of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.  The book has more than 50 colour pictures, both birds and landscapes, by club members Andy Mould, Mike Hodgson, Tim Dean and Richard Dunn, the author and publishers. Lough.

Below is a selection of photos from Holy Island.

To view a larger image, please click once, on a photo.