Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Drumroll Please......

Yesterday was a momentous day for all on and associated with the islands. The 5th April 2016 has been added to the history books as it was on this day that the chapel cross was erected again, after a 16 year absence. It was also a great day for migrant birds, but more on that later. 

The chapel with it's new cross and a beautiful double rainbow ©Ed Tooth

St Cuthbert's chapel has stood on the Inner Farne since the 12th century, and is an internationally important Grade 1 listed building for its role in hosting many monks and pilgrims who helped spread Christianity in Northumberland and beyond. In the 1840s it was restored by Archdeacon Charles Thorpe and it was at this time that we believe the old cross was put on the chapel. There it stood for 160 years until the winter of 2000 when in severe gales it was blown from the top of the chapel and destroyed.

We set up a donations box in the chapel and raised the money necessary to get a new cross sculpted and erected. For this we owe a huge thanks to every one of you who donated. If it wasn't for your generosity then there would still be no cross. We also owe a big thank you to David Edwick, who sculpted the new cross and helped us fit it. And a final thanks to Nick Lewis, the house steward from Lindisfarne who helped get the cross up.

Once we had it, it was just a case of getting a not-so-windy day and getting it up in place. So yesterday the scaffolding arrived, as did David and the work was underway. It took just half a day to have the cross up and we must say the chapel now looks complete again!

David and Nick carefully lower the cross into place

Then it was important to make sure it was straight

Then the last bit of resin was applied to keep it secure

And finally... Nick and David happy to see the cross erected at last  ©Anne Wilson

Alongside the excitement about the cross, there was excitement about migrant birds as well. A light south-easterly wind on the 4th brought in some new birds for the year, including a male Blackcap, Brambling, 4 Black Redstart (2 on Inner Farne and 2 on Brownsman) and our first Swallow of the year. On the 5th we found an early Sand Martin cruising over Big Harcar, and a stunning male Ring Ouzel arrived on top meadow on Inner Farne and showed very well for a few hours. There has also been a strong supporting cast of 6 Wheatear, 14 Goldcrest and 8 Chiffchaff.

Male Ring Ouzel  ©Tom Hendry

Black Redstart  ©Tom Hendry

As for breeding birds, the Sandiwch Tern roost is building nicely and last night stood at 79 birds. They can now be seen calling and courting over the islands, while on land the Puffins are coming in their thousands and spring-cleaning their burrows. Guillemots have been notable in their absence from the cliffs in the last few days, but Kittiwakes are on land and nest-building and we are finding new Shag eggs every day, and now have at least 3 Mallard nests on the islands. It won't be long now until the first Eider nest is found!

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