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Holy Island retreats offer 'orni-theology'

Retreats often involve worship and biblical reflection. A new series of weekends on Holy Island, Northumberland, this year will also feature birdwatching ...

A unique series of Christian retreats are being launched in 2015 in Northumberland. 'Even Sparrows' weekends start on Holy Island on 6 March and 8 May, and they involve the unusual combination of worship, biblical reflection ... and birdwatching. They take their name from the teaching of Jesus who told his followers that God loves "even sparrows".

Organiser Mark Winter says "Each weekend will be a highly enjoyable mix of reflections on birds found in the Bible, Celtic Christian worship and guided birdwatching walks around Holy Island. We hope these enriching weekends will help introduce Christians to the joys of birdwatching and develop an appreciation of what Christian writer John Stott has termed as 'orni-theology'."

The first weekend retreat on 6-8 March focuses on owls, since short-eared owls are a wintering speciality of the island. The second weekend on 8-10 May focuses on doves – held at a time when breeding collared doves and wood pigeons are seen and heard around Holy Island village. More details of both weekends can be found at

Mark Winter has  been a birdwatcher in Northumberland for more than 30 years, and is an active member of his village Anglican church in Felton, Northumberland. 'Even Sparrows' is a new development of his guided birdwatching business, Birdwatch Northumbria, set up in 2004.

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