27th September 2012 – Holy Moly Island!!

Well it was another early start today for a full days birding at one of my favourite destinations – Holy Island. Our target bird was an Arctic Warbler – which would be a new bird for me – but would it stay overnight?

The magical Holy Island awaits…

We parked up at Chare Ends and walked into the village, and just like yesterday there was plenty of birds to search through. Goldcrests, Robins and Song Thrushes were all over, and lots of Chiffchaffs and a few Willow Warblers were immediately obvious in the sycamores alongside the road. Also here was a Lesser Whitethroat, a few Redstarts, a Pied Fly and some Spotted Flycatchers. Things looked very promising indeed! As we neared the Lindisfarne Hotel we really began to scrutinise everything as this is the area where the Arctic had favoured yesterday. After about 20 minutes the bird suddenly appeared – get in! My first tick since February and a long overdue one too… It was a real performer, giving superb bin views, but unfortunately the light wasn’t great for photography, as it was nearly always in the shadows of the sycamore leaves. This one below being my best effort from the morning session with it…

What a start to the day. As a few more birders arrived and several hundred tourists had began to turn up we decided to go search for our own stuff and get some peace. The Vicar’s Garden is always a good spot so that seemed like the obvious choice. Again we were watching Chiffys, Spot Flys, Redstarts, Thrushes and Robins. Col moved a few metres down towards the beach whilst I carried on looking in the garden with Craig.  Suddenly he beckoned us over waving frantically, I knew he had something good! “Wryneck down by that bench!” he said. We raised our bins and could just see the head of this fab bird, but then it vanished. We waited for Keith to arrive and then the four of us began to search for it, it certainly hadn’t gone far and we figured it was most likely on the beach. Sure enough it was – and what a stonking bird. Nice find Col!

We walked back through the village but by now it was heaving with tourists – there was only one thing for it! To get away to a quieter part of the island as quickly as possible – The Snook seemed like the obvious choice…

Col looking keen at The Snook…

The bushes held a range of species, including this showy Spot Fly…

And yet more Redstarts – never tire of seeing these…

We walked beyond the Snook house towards some isolated bushes, and then this beauty flew up in front of us….

Bloody Great Grey Shrike! One had been reported in this area yesterday but knowing how mobile they can be we certainly hadn’t expected to see it today. It flew to a distant bush but the heat haze was quite bad hence crappy record shot…

We alerted Craig and Keith about the shrike and they told us in return that they’d just had another Wryneck at Chare Ends. So back to Chare Ends it was then! Before we got to see the Wryneck a Brambling flew over and landed far away…

And a flock of Barnies flew over too…

The Wryneck duly popped up onto a stone wall and blew a raspberry at us!! Just look at that tongue!

We made our way towards the Straight Lonnen, the walls here were alive with Wheatears, Redstarts and Song Thrushes – and a single Whinchat…

Back in the village the crowds had finally buggered off so Col and I were able to enjoy the Arctic Warbler in relative peace. And boy did this bird show well for us…!!

Wow! 2 superb days back to back. Time to head back to Cumbria where a Long-billed Dowitcher has been reported on the Solway…

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4 Responses to 27th September 2012 – Holy Moly Island!!

  1. Neil scott says:


    • Whay a day! What a blog post! What beltin’ photos (all of them)! Well done on all fronts. I am praying to Ornithus, the Northumbrian God of Birding, that at least the Warbler remains until Sunday. Somehow I think not, but you never know………..

  2. Carl Baggott says:

    Some absolute cracking photos of the Arctic Warbler. I have to say I’m quite envious of your experiences over the last couple of weeks, and two American Goldies that just plain greedy. Take care Darren and remind me to the family.


  3. G says:

    I did consider going for the arctic warbler for a couple of seconds but then remembered….. it is Holy Island….. and I hate twitching !!

    Now I’ve seen your pics I wish I’d gone though…… Anyway, glad you got it, a great bird and a decent supporting cast too.

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