• News From The Rock #63 - Sunshine and Showers

    It's been quiet on the bird front these past few days with migrants thin on the ground. It was a bit of a surprise this morning to see 3 swallows feeding over the vegetation clad slopes of Aber Myharan, hoovering up the few insects still on the wing, grabbing every last morsel of energy before crossing to France, Spain and eventually sub-Saharan Africa. A willow warbler in the ivy at Ogof Capel was also on the late side…

    • 25 Oct 2020
  • News From The Rock #62 - Day Trip!

    It's fair to say we've not made it off Ramsey much this season, in fact the furthest I've been since March is Porth Clais in the boat to pick up supplies! So there was a degree of excitement in the air last week when the weather gods played ball to allow us to get to the other reserve we manage from here, Grassholm. Many of you will know that each autumn, once the bulk of the gannets have left for the winter, we head…

    • 20 Oct 2020
  • News From The Rock #61 - a bit of weather

    The Pembrokeshire Dangler is a weather phenomenon caused by cold northerly air being forced between Ireland and western Britain. As it passes over a relatively warm Irish Sea a line of intense showers form stretching from north Wales to Cornwall, concentrating over Pembrokeshire. It is most commonly experienced in autumn as the sea still retains some of it's summer 'warmth'. Some areas can be under rain for long periods…

    • 13 Oct 2020
  • News From The Rock #60 - Pupdate

    A break from the 2020 breeding bird updates to give you a quick 'pupdate'. We recently passed the 700 mark for pups born on Ramsey's beaches and in her caves this year. Numbers of new births are slowing down considerably now but we will still see births into November. Our harbour beach saw 2 new births in the past 24 hours bringing the total born on this tiny pebble beach since September up to 8, the most I can remember…

    • 12 Oct 2020
  • News From The Rock #59 - the heathland breeders

    Continuing our look back at the breeding season just gone, today sees stonechat, linnet and meadow pipit under the spotlight. Half of Ramsey is covered in heathland, a special 'coastal heathland' mix, not quite lowland heath and not quite maritime heath which has puzzled the experts over the years. It's classification is currently under review, but whatever pigeon hole it gets assigned to one thing is sure, it is a vital…

    • 10 Oct 2020
  • News From The Rock #58 - A look back at summer: wheatears

    As I sit here on Sunday morning the rain is lashing the NW facing windows as gusts in excess of 55mph batter us from that direction. Not a great time to be a seal pup but this is nothing unusual for October. Over 600 pups have been born so far this season with our next count due tomorrow. No doubt there will be casualties but we are past the peak for births now and they had a storm free September after two named storm…

    • 4 Oct 2020
  • News From The Rock #57 - First Glimpse

    Yet another Manx shearwater post I'm afraid, but it won't be long before the last few are on their way to Argentina. This video shows the last of our nest box birds. He or she can be seen venturing to the entrance of the tunnel for a peek of the outside world for the first time. He/she then takes the plunge and leaves the sanctuary of their burrow for first time following 60 days cooped up in safety. Vigorous wing exercising…

    • 28 Sep 2020
  • News From The Rock #56 - Its Important To Stretch

    As we enter the last week of September the vast majority of our Manx shearwater fledglings have left the island and are on their way to the coast of Argentina. It looks to have been a good breeding season, the average weights of the birds in our nest boxes was up on last year and all 9 of the 12 eggs that hatched will get away (8 have now gone with just 1 late hatcher still to go)

    The video below shows a nightly ritual…

    • 24 Sep 2020
  • News From The Rock #55 - Catch Up

    Apologies for the lack of news from the rock for the past week! No idea where the time goes.....I will post a couple of blogs over the coming week to bring you up to speed, rather than turn this into an unreadable essay. So for today here is a quick summary of events from the past week - well the bits I can remember without having my diary in front of me!

    We are in the thick of the grey seal pup monitoring season now…

    • 20 Sep 2020
  • News From The Rock #55 - Catch Up

    Apologies for the lack of news from the rock for the past week! No idea where the time goes.....I will post a couple of blogs over the coming week to bring you up to speed, rather than turn this into an unreadable essay. So for today here is a quick summary of events from the past week - well the bits I can remember without having my diary in front of me!

    We are in the thick of the grey seal pup monitoring season now…

    • 20 Sep 2020
  • News From The Rock #54 - Ready For The Off

    With Manx shearwater fledglings departing the Pembrokeshire islands in their droves at the moment, below is a short video of 2 of our nest box pairs caught on trail camera exercising their wings before making the leap of faith into the darkness that all our birds have to undertake at some point. These 2 are the first of the nest box birds to fledge this year, the others aren't far behind.

    After seeing them grow and…

    • 9 Sep 2020
  • News From The Rock #53 - Pupdate

    We are now over a week into our grey seal pup monitoring which means counting and age classifying pups on our 9 study beaches. We carry this out every 3 days between late August and the end of the season (usually early November) - at the end this data provides with an overall pup estimate for the season.

    We usually have between 500-700 pups born in that period making Ramsey the largest grey seal pupping site in the SW…

    • 1 Sep 2020
  • News From The Rock #52 - Survivors

    It was with some trepidation that I set out yesterday for our first grey seal pup monitoring round post Storm Francis. It is still fairly early days in the season but 3 days previously there had been 17 pups on our monitored beaches. With 16m wave heights and 60mph winds recorded locally the swells had been fierce, as illustrated in the last couple of blogs. Surely nothing could survive that? In recent years autumn storms…

    • 27 Aug 2020
  • News From The Rock #51 - Keep the hatches battened

    No sooner had Storm Ellen passed than Storm Francis came crashing in today. More gusts of 60mph, another huge swell and 48mm of rain overnight. I can't remember two named storms in August before, all this hot on the heels of a heatwave and thunderstorms.

    Between storm systems I manged to get the first official grey seal pup count of the season in. There were 17 on our 9 monitored beaches. This is carried out every…

    • 25 Aug 2020
  • News From The Rock #50 - Batten Down The Hatches

    It's been a rough couple of days on the island as we, like large swathes of the country, have been battered by Storm Ellen. 60mph winds coincided with spring tides of 7.5m+ meaning the swell at the top of the tide was amplified. These sort of storms are common place in autumn and winter so to get one of this magnitude in August was unusual. 

    Over the years I have grown used to seeing scenes like those in the video…

    • 22 Aug 2020
  • What To Do If You Find A Stranded Manx Shearwater 2020

    By rights Manx shearwaters should be the national bird of Wales! Over 50% of the entire world population breed here with the vast majority of those in Pembrokeshire, with Skomer being the world's single largest colony with 350,000 pairs. It is the most important breeding bird in the country from a 'world percentage responsibility' viewpoint.

    Adults are nocturnal on land and their offspring follow suit and…

    • 20 Aug 2020
  • News From The Rock #49 - A damp squib

    After all the fog and murk while others basked in the heatwave we finally had a scorching day last Thursday - the mercury hit a whopping 26C, hot for out here, and didn't drop below 18C that night, the highest night time temperature logged in 15 years of regular recording.

    Today however has been muggy and wet with steady rain falling from mid morning onwards. It didn't stop the birds though with migrants on their…

    • 15 Aug 2020
  • News From The Rock #48 - Groundhog day weather

    Being so far west in the UK we have a maritime climate which means we don't see much in the way of extreme weather (apart from gales - we do those well!) It never gets exceptionally hot here (our max during the 'heatwave' so far has been a sweltering 20C) and it rarely gets that cold (snow is unusual). Humidity isn't much of an issue either and long hot sleepless nights are not a problem. However this past week has been…

    • 11 Aug 2020
  • News From The Rock #47 - Stormies On Film

    Regular readers will know that in 2000 Ramsey became one of the first (and at the time the largest) island in the UK to be cleared of an invasive predator. In the 1800's brown rats were accidentally introduced to the island via shipwrecks and decimated the burrow nesting seabird populations that had evolved over millions of years with no defence against mammalian predators in their ecosystem.

    A team from New Zealand…

    • 4 Aug 2020
  • News From The Rock #46 - Catch Up

    Another week has managed to skip by without a blog (as my mum will no doubt remind me when we chat next!) so here is a quick catch up....

    Work wise it's largely been taken up with more habitat management (bracken rolling) and painting (first undercoat on the newly plastered bungalow twin room and wood preserver on gates, benches and farm building doors). It's amazing how overgrown some of the paths have become with no…

    • 29 Jul 2020
  • News From The Rock #45 - First Pups Of The Year

    A nice surprise today on our return from checking storm petrel nest sites was the discovery of the first two grey seal pups of the year. They were born at a regular west coast site that is traditionally first out of the blocks. It is a difficult beach to view so doesn't form part of our official monitoring programme but we keep an eye on it all the same. Conditions need to be right to be stand any chance of seeing the…

    • 21 Jul 2020
  • Green Recovery Wales: A look at farming on Ramsey

    Running from July 20th-23rd RSPB is hosting, in partnership with other organisations, a virtual festival of farming, food and nature under the banner of Green Recovery Wales

    This event sees 4 days of activities, ideas and discussions focused on farming and land management, sustainable food systems, restoring wildlife and working together towards a greener future for Wales.

    Each session covers different topics with live…

    • 20 Jul 2020
  • News From The Rock #45 - A Flying Update

    Where did that week go?! I think the answer is it was taken up with lots of habitat management and building maintenance. I wheeled out the bracken bruiser for it's annual month of work. A simple device that is pulled behind the quad bike and crushes bracken stems as you drive through the fields. This helps us keep the northern fields open for chough to feed in and the southern heathland from being swamped by bracken.…

    • 17 Jul 2020
  • News From The Rock #44: Sheep Shearing - a guest blog

    To give you a change from my ramblings, I have asked my best friend and trusted colleague of the past 12 years to write today's blog about Saturday's sheep shearing - it's taken him till today to finish writing it as his ability to use a small laptop keyboard is slightly hampered for obvious reasons...without further ado I will hand you over to Dewi the border collie!

    hEllo and thank you for having me. All…

    • 12 Jul 2020
  • News From The Rock #43 - Final Scores On The Door For Chough

    June was anything but flaming. With over 100mm of rain it was wetter than May, April and most of March combined with northerly winds dominating the month. Near drought conditions in early spring coupled with such an unsettled lead in to summer are far from ideal conditions for chough breeding, but breed they did and with good success.

    To recap - we had 10 breeding pairs this year, the second highest on record after 11…

    • 7 Jul 2020