by Ian Kerr
330 Island bird species and we're still counting!

The sheer wealth of our island birdlife and much more besides is revealed in a new lavishly illustrated hardback book on which our regular wildlife contributor, Ian Kerr, has been working for the past two years.

A total of 330 species of birds, some from as far away as Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South Atlantic, America and Canada, have so far been recorded on the island and the surrounding flats and Ian believes still more are to be found.


Caught passing in front of the Castle by Mike Hodgson the front cover shows the
island's most important wintering wildfowl, pale-bellied Brent Geese.

The the book also contains anecdotes with a wildlife theme, new and fascinating details about the island's natural history and the 18th, 19th and 20th century characters who were involved in it.

The book has more than 50 colour pictures, both of birds and landscapes, taken for the publication by some of the north's finest wildlife photographers. There are also newly commissioned maps which include recent developments such as the Window on Wild Lindisfarne at the Rocket Field, the Heugh watchtower and the new hide at the Lough.

The Birds of Holy Island has been produced by Nature Guides, a natural history publishing company based in London and founded by Max Whitby of Skylark at Chare Ends. The company specialises in creating high quality print and digital field guides for the international market. Among products is a digital version of the famed Collins Bird Guide, the "bible" for birdwatchers throughout Europe, as well as apps covering butterflies, moths, bumblebees and dragonflies.

The new publication is a successor to Ian's very much more modest 2007 soft-back book which is now out of print. Ian says that, surprisingly, a lot of previously unpublished historical information about the island's wildlife has come to light after lying forgotten in various regional archives. It has now been incorporated in the new publication.

Short-eared Owl

One of our wintering Short-eared Owl helpfully poses on an island wall
for Max Whitby of NatureGuides.

Because of the island strategic location for migrating birds, the book details a staggering 45 species of waders which have occurred and 24 species of migrant warblers, some many thousands of miles from their normal haunts.

In addition, new species to the island are being recorded almost annually. Others not seen locally for a century or more had also been found. The latter included a spectacular White-tailed Eagle which caused panic among the geese and waders as it soared over the flats in autumn 2014, the first local sighting for over 130 years.

Ian adds: "The need for a completely updated book has been apparent for some time and I'm delighted that Max and his company have taken this on. The book has a real feeling of quality about it and the editors, designer and printer have done a fantastic job."

Max said that the book was aimed at those with a real love of Holy Island and its wildlife.

"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."

frozen island fields and the Castle

This stunning dark wintery morning scene of frozen island fields and the Castle
was caught by Fiona Barclay of NatureGuides.

Among new topics covered in the book are:-
  • The fascinating Victorian and earlier 20th century characters who stalked the island and flats
  • How old-time naturalists shot birds without causing damage to their plumage
  • The indiscriminate slaughter which led to the creation of the national nature reserve
  • Tales of crafty crows which can identify guns when they see them
  • How the famed garden designer Gertrude Jeykll used a shotgun to plant seeds
  • The island Stoat which developed a taste for Fulmar oil
  • How islanders used migrating Goldcrests to clear their homes of spiders

Published: 2016 - ISBN: 978-0-9544882-4-6
Price £14-99
(postage & packing extra)
Available at the 'Lindisfarne Centre' and the 'Holy Island Post Office'
or direct from:

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