Fersiwn Cymraeg ar gael yma

Back in 2011, when I was twenty four and fresh out of university, I spent two summers working as the Reserve Assistant on RSPB Ramsey Island.  From the very beginning, I was completely in love with the place.  Ramsey, its wildlife, it’s history and island life has a kind of magic about it which gets under your skin.  From then on and for the next ten years, whenever anyone asked me what my dream job was, Ramsey Warden was the answer, no hesitation!  So, in 2021 when I started my new job as warden of the island, it really was a dream come true.

Myself and Greg, the Site Manager, and of course Dewi the sheepdog arrive on the island at the beginning of March and spend nine months living and working out here until the end of November.  It’s amazing to be out here from the very beginning of the season when the spring migrants are just starting to come through, through the busy bird breeding and right through to the autumn when the birds begin to leave and Ramsey’s beaches are full of breeding grey seals. 

My role is a real mixture, including managing the visitor operation and the volunteers, monitoring and surveying the birds, seals, plants and other wildlife, maintaining the islands buildings, paths, walls and fences and looking after the livestock.

I learnt so much in my first season, too much to recount here but I do have some new favourite skills.  I now always know which direction the wind is coming from and what time the high tide is. The wind and the tide have a huge impact on my day, they dictate whether the boat can cross and which surveys I can do.  I also know every pair of Ramsey’s chough, I know where they nest, when they start incubating their eggs, when their chicks hatch and how many chicks they manage to fledge.  Getting to know the wildlife on this intimate level feels really special.  And last but not least, I now know how you get a flock of sheep onto a boat!!  But every season is different and there’s always so much more to learn so I’m excited for my future on Ramsey.

It is so rewarding knowing that I’m doing my bit to conserve Ramsey as a wild place where seabirds and seals can thrive.  But it is important to remember, especially with marine species, that conserving the place they breed alone is not enough.  Seabirds can be important environmental indicators and understanding them can help us understand the health of the marine ecosystem as a whole.  So, as well as monitoring the breeding seabirds, we must think about the wider picture; where are these birds going to feed and where do they spend the winter when they aren’t breeding on Ramsey or Grassholm?  It’s important to understand the pressures these species might they be facing when they are out at sea.  Overfishing, new infrastructure like offshore wind farms and climate change are just some of the things that might be impacting them beyond Ramsey’s shores.  One thing we can do is to keep a close eye on our populations here and ensure that any changes are detected quickly.  We also do some tracking work on Ramsey and Grassholm’s seabirds, attaching tiny GPS and geolocation devices to the birds which tell us where those animals are going and helps us to understand how we can work towards conserving them both on the islands and offshore.

Find out more about the magic of RSPB Ramsey Island, and book your ferry for an unforgettable adventure!