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wildlife group: Roger Manning is well known as an expert on wildlife and a keen photographer, not to mention being the founder of the Alnwick Wildlife group. Roger has himself moved recently from north Northumberland to the Scottish Borders, and Berwick Wildlife Group were very fortunate that he came to speak to them about local fauna and flora on both sides of the border. Roger took the group on a photographic tour of the area, starting with the Berwick swans, but also drawing attention to Berwick docks where scaup and red-throated divers may be seen in winter. Holy Island and its causeway came next. Many rarities land on the island during their migration, including the barred warbler. The island hosts a mass of wild flowers including thousands of helleborines, with one endemic species, but is unfortunately being overrun by piri-piri burr, a “wool alien” from New Zealand, which is choking out our native species and has spread to the mainland. Belford boasts what many regard as a dovecote, but is in fact an old windmill. It was used as a guide by fishermen. The next stop was Kyloe Wood, where there are so many different tree species thanks in large measure to Captain Leyland. This creates superb habitats for birds and the ground is carpeted with a varied flora, including Yellow Pimpernel. There are fungi too, and Roger showed a picture of fly agaric, so familiar to Brownies, which was an early fly poison and has a mildly hallucinogenic effect. Roger suggested that the Vikings may have used it to “psych” themselves up before battle. He then showed pictures of the Farnes, home to the fourth largest grey seal colony in Britain and to many thousands of sea birds. Just along the coast the Whin Sill can be seen at Cullernose Point, where kittiwakes and fulmars nest. Inland, Hulne Park holds fallow deer, roe deer and Red Deer, and the diminutive Chickweed Wintergreen can be found there. Nearer Berwick is Ford Moss, an industrial archaeological site, which is also home to many species, including adders. These can also be found in the Cheviots, where ring ouzels make a spring and summer home. Their numbers are decreasing, probably because in winter they subsist largely on juniper, which is being cleared from their wintering grounds in Portugal. Crossing the border at Coldstream, arable land dominates, favouring the grey partridge. The Tweed itself sees many winter visitors such as whooper swans, greylag and pink-footed geese, with occasional bewick’s swans. Otters are back on the river, but hedgehog numbers are falling to danger level. The Berwickshire coast famously boasts St Abb’s Head where sea birds nest in their thousands and the varied flora includes the rock rose, the larval food of the brown argus butterfly. This account hardly does justice to Roger’s superb presentation, for which the Group is very grateful. Berwick Wildlife Group’s talks will now take place on the third Wednesday of the month. The next on is on Wednesday, January 16th, by Georgia Conolly, the Marine Ranger at the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve. This will be at 7.30pm in Berwick United Reformed Church, Main Street, Spittal, and everyone is welcome.

arts club: The next meeting of Berwick Arts Club will be on Tuesday January 8 from 7.30 – 9.30pm in the Conference Room of the Berwick Voluntary Forum (CAB) Building, Tweed Street, Berwick. Lars Rose will give a talk on ‘Anna Akhmatova – Life and times of a poet in the Soviet Union’. The poet Anna Akhmatova spent most of her productive life during the first 50 years of the existence of the USSR. By looking at her life and her poetry Lars will describe the situation of those people who did not uncritically embrace the political and artistic ideas prescribed by the Soviet Union. All are welcome. There will be a charge of £2 for visitors. For further information contact the secretary. Tel: 01289 308767.

ROTARY CLUB: Berwick Rotary is not only a club but also a family, president Ken Budge told members and guests at the annual Christmas dinner. A turnout of 95 - one of the largest ever - was welcomed by the president and master of ceremonies was vice president Simon Landels. Mr Budge said Berwickers cared for others and for the community. They worked hard and were given respect. He introduced the principal guests - his wife Jacqui, president of Berwick Inner Wheel and Maggie Harker, president of the neighbouring Till and Glendale Rotary Club. They were an extended family, several of whom were not members but did a great deal of work on their behalf. He welcomed Helen Tait of the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group with whom rotary had a special relationship in 2012. Other guests included Martin Warner, Malcolm Reed, Willie and Daphne Robson of Chain Bridge Honey Farm, Kate Stephenson and Martin Landels. Entertainment was provided by Berwick Middle School choir led by Aubrey Sanderson and Dougal Moir. The president thanked Toni Berlino and staff for an excellent meal.

Probus: Running a successful farming business is the role of Nigel Dudgeon. With his family he has developed Conundrum, on the northern outskirts of the town and it now includes a top-class restaurant, a farm walk and a play area and angling. He described the project in an entertaining talk to Berwick Probus Club on Wednesday. Chairman John Robertson has steered the club through a busy year and a presentation of a painting was made to him by the members, He thanked the officials, committee and members for their support throughout the year. The club resumes on Wednesday, January 9.

U3A: The Berwick U3A held their Christmas Lunch in The Black & Gold Club on December 20. It was a great success with the excellent food served by Leslie and her team. The Berwick U3A Singers have been contributing to the Xmas Festivities accepting an invitation to sing at the Berwick Garden Centre. Their first meeting of the new year will be on Tuesday, January 8. Due to some problems in the library, Book Group 2 have had to swap their February choice for January’s so they will now be reading and discussing ‘One Week in December’ by Sebastian Faulks on the 3rd January and ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce on the 7th February. Sue Handoll’s Art Groups are going to be working with acrylic paint starting in the New Year until Easter. Many people prefer this medium as it dries so quickly that one can hide one’s mistakes by painting over them! Sue, herself, prefers the translucency of water-colour but readily admits that one can get brilliantly coloured pictures with the vibrant colours of the manmade acrylic paint. They will be using palette knives as well as brushes, and on occasions using the paint straight from the tube and building a 3D effect. There will be no art class on January 2 or 30. The first class of Art Group 1 is on January 16; and of Group 2 on January 9. Members and non members can check up the majority of our activities, and details of Group Leaders to contact, on www.berwicku3a.org.uk. If you are not a member of Berwick U3A why not join us and take part in one or all of our 30+ activities? Our next Open Meeting is on Monday, January 7 in St Aidan’s Hall, when we will have Anne Reeve talking about ‘Singing for a Living’.

ST ANDREWS WALLACE GREEN: On Saturday, January 5 the Prayer Group of St Andrews Wallace Green Church meet at 9.30am and on Sunday 6th there will be a service at Lowick Village Hall and then at 11am at St Andrew’s Wallace Green. Elders are reminded that there will be a short meeting of the Session directly following the 11am service. The bowls group start again on Monday 7th at 1.45pm and both choir and Guild restart on Thursday 10th. Further details and contacts can be found on www.sawg.org.uk.

Holy Island

ALERT: Shortly before 3pm on Thursday, Seahouses lifeboat was launched to take an ambulance crew to Holy Island, where a female patient was ill and required medical attention. The causeway was closed by the high tide, but was starting to recede. The lifeboat was quickly launched and awaited the arrival of the emergency ambulance at Seahouses, which had been diverted there. A paramedic and his equipment were transferred to the lifeboat and conveyed to Holy Island. His colleague then drove the ambulance to the causeway, in anticipation of the patient being brought across the causeway as the tide receded. Sea conditions were very choppy, occasionally rough, and evacuation of an ill person by lifeboat, was considered by the coxswain as a last resort. On arrival of the lifeboat, local shore based coastguards escorted the paramedic to the casualty’s location. She was assessed and stabilised, and transferred to the coastguard 4x4 vehicle with the paramedic, and brought across the causeway which was still clearing of sea water. She was transferred to the awaiting ambulance on the mainland and taken to hospital for treatment.

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