Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - JOHN MILES

The his­tory of Holy Is­land has been as much about monks as mi­grant birds, so many of the peo­ple who flock to it may have a dif­fer­ent re­li­gion to the birder look­ing for a good mi­grant. I have trav­elled here many times, not by walk­ing bare­foot across the sands, but driv­ing over the cause­way at low tide. I have al­ways loved the is­land for what it is – full of his­tory and of­ten birds, some com­mon but al­ways dif­fer­ent in their lo­ca­tion. The Straight Lonning is as mag­i­cal as the abbey and the cas­tle to bird­ers, such is the an­tic­i­pa­tion as you walk along af­ter an east­erly in spring and es­pe­cially au­tumn. One of my best days here saw eight Bluethroats. None on the first walk down, just a Red-backed Shrike, but they were all hid­ing on the west side of the hedge out of the wind, along with Red­starts and Pied Fly­catch­ers. An au­tumn trip found Amer­i­can Golden Plovers and Buff­breasted Sand­piper in the fields on the right and a King Eider at the point. The list can go on and on, but a dip for me was the White’s Thrush in 2016, but still a great day with Yellow-browed War­bler and a Short-eared Owl off the sea. Lots of thrushes in can mean Ring Ouzels, while Gold­crests are ev­ery­where. The Rocket Field pools at the start of your walk can have sev­eral species of duck from Wi­geon to Teal, and al­ways the odd wader from Curlew to Pec­toral Sand­piper. The House Spar­rows by the farm and first part of the lon­nen can be made into so many species when try­ing for a rar­ity. Out in the dunes you have to ap­proach each bush in case a Long-eared or Short-eared Owl is roost­ing there. Then there is al­ways the fly­over pipit which you can­not get onto or the skulk­ing Reed Bunting which is still only a Reed Bunting, while in the bushes there is that fly-by fal­con which could have been a Mer­lin or just an­other Kestrel.

A mi­grant ‘trap’ on Holy Is­land


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