NORTHUMBERLAND (Berwick-Upon-Tweed), (S)

National Grid NU 125 415 00o00´/00o00´ N/A ha 0-20m, arable land and meadows with hedges and a rugged rocky coastline

Anytime especially spring and autumn (24.01.00 to 29.01.00 and 27.01.00-31.01.00)


Birding Site Guide

This is an excellent birding destination in the far NE of England not far from the Scottish border. Holy Island is linked to the mainland by a causeway of about a mile this is only passable at low tide so arrival and departure need to be timed accordingly. However, it is possible to stay on Holy Island in the village though this may be more expensive than the mainland and heavily booked for the tourist season. There are various tourist shops in the village including places to eat and drink.

We stayed at Beal, the first few houses and pub on the mainland, both times. The place was a sort of youth hostel, but it would be better to enquire at the pub or try a little further along the A1.

Birding on the island is very rewarding with plenty of seabirds most of the year, with breeding seabirds here and at the nearby Farne Islands, which are 5 miles or so south (owned by National Trust, see their website). There are also many familiar garden and farmland birds and the area does attract migrants in good numbers. Obviously at the time of our visits migration was not much in evidence though. On the island is the castle, which as well as being a major tourist attraction is also a good place to check for birds. Being only a couple of miles around, the island is easily checked either by car or on foot.

There are many other areas within easy travelling distance of Holy Island which are well worth visiting and can include other species. These may include within 10 miles to the south: Fenham Flats (with Guile and Ross Point), Budle Bay and Stag Rocks, Craster, Low Newton and about 15 miles south Druridge Bay Country Park (South of Amble) and Chevington Drift Country Park just inland of Druridge Bay.

Over the border and just into Scotland to the north and nearer to Edinburgh on the A1, Dunbar and also in Edinburgh; Musselburgh off A199 (and Black Rocks and Granton Harbour). Some of these may have separate write-ups here on BSG, look on the menu or search.


Birds seen (some species were on close-by mainland)

  • Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata
  • Arctic Loon Gavia arctica
  • Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena
  • Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
  • Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus
  • Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
  • Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
  • Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
  • European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
  • Mute Swan Cygnus olor
  • Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus
  • Greylag Goose Anser anser
  • Brant Branta bernicla
  • Canada Goose Branta canadensis intro'
  • Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
  • Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  • Common Pochard Aythya ferina
  • Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
  • Common Eider Somateria mollissima
  • Common Scoter Melanitta nigra
  • Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
  • Common Merganser Mergus merganser
  • Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca
  • Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
  • Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus intro'
  • Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  • Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
  • Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
  • Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
  • Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
  • Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
  • Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
  • Common Redshank Tringa totanus
  • Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
  • Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima
  • Dunlin Calidris alpina
  • Mew Gull Larus canus
  • Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
  • European Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  • Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
  • Common Murre Uria aalge
  • Razorbill Alca torda
  • Rock Pigeon Columba livia
  • Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
  • Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
  • Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus
  • Pied/White Wagtail Motacilla alba
  • Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
  • Dunnock Prunella modularis
  • Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula
  • Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
  • Redwing Turdus iliacus
  • Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
  • European Robin Erithacus rubecula
  • Great Tit Parus major
  • Eurasian Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
  • Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
  • Rook Corvus frugilegus
  • Carrion Crow Corvus corone
  • European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  • Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
  • European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
  • European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis


Author: BSG