• News From The Rock #68 - A Cold Start

    We are currently on the island carrying out some maintenance work and providing daily sheep feeds during this cold spell. It has dropped to 0c for the past 2 nights and looks to be heading that way again. Over the years we have only had Welsh Mountain ewes out here, firstly Glamorgan, then Lleyn and now 'Sennybridge Cheviot'. Settling on the latter was the best decision we ever made. They may be a little more 'wild' but…

    • 3 Jan 2021
  • Whistle Stop 2020 Part 3: Autumn into winter

    The final look at 2020 sees us leave summer behind as we slide into ever shortening days. The once vibrant heathland colours slowly slip into a deep orange, illuminated by classic autumn sunrises, which are at a much more sensible time of day by now! But autumn on Ramsey is dominated by one thing....grey seals!


    The first seal pup was actually born on 15th July on Cololmennod. This beach always returns the first…

    • 1 Jan 2021
  • Whistle Stop 2020 Part 2: Summer

    The most noticeable change as we slipped from spring into summer was the demise of the weather! Following the halcyon days of April and May, the driest spring on record on Ramsey, we saw the wettest June with over 100mm (4" in old money) of rain. This was not ideal for our newly fledged chough and house martins. The pendulum swung the other way again in July and August with just 38mm being logged over the two months.…

    • 30 Dec 2020
  • Whistle Stop 2020 - Part 1: Spring

    We all know what sort of a year 2020 was and life on Ramsey was not immune. While we felt very fortunate to have freedom to move around outside, and to work in such a stunning location, while the rest of the country was reduced to 1 hours exercise a day in the first lockdown, we were unable to welcome any visitors to the reserve.

    The good news was, with no interaction with the outside world and no need for social distancing…

    • 30 Dec 2020
  • Gin-gle Bells - a message from Iolo Williams


    To purchase any of our conservation gin products go to: StDavidsGin.Wales

    We are now in the third year of our partnership with local Pembrokeshire business St Davids Gin, so we’d like to give you a quick update and offer a suggestion or two if you are stuck for Christmas present ideas (spoiler alert: its gin!)

    St Davids Gin launched in 2017…

    • 19 Nov 2020
  • News From The Rock #67 - Cold November Rain

    There can sometimes be a 'groundhog' day feeling to November. You scurry around in the meagre daylight on offer to get jobs done outside then attack the emails when it gets too dark to see or your fingers feel like they are about to drop off (not conducive to attacking said emails). Getting those outside jobs done however can be a challenge given typical November weather patterns. But while it may seem like an endless…

    • 16 Nov 2020
  • News From The Rock #66 - More pupdates

    The good news is the grey seal pup that was born a week ago on Aber Felin made it through the rough weather of last week and, at 8 days old today, is currently enjoying a much more settled spell of weather.

    Below is a video shot 2 days ago - the pup seems to be enjoying his 'tickle' and 'cuddle' from mum but nature rarely does anything without a reason. The 'flippering' action by the cow is often seen as they try and…

    • 6 Nov 2020
  • News From The Rock #65 - Pupdate

    The newborn pup I blogged about last time is now 3 days old and has made it through Storm Aiden. Yesterday saw 60mph winds coupled with big spring tides as a result of the full moon. Average wave height on the St Ann's Head weather buoy was around 5m with a peak of 11m! Luckily the south side harbour beach (Aber Felin) where the cow chose to pup extends back far enough to allow both mother and pup to ride out such weather…

    • 1 Nov 2020
  • News From The Rock #64 - They Think It's All Over.....

    ....but it's not quite!

    Those of you who have been watching BBC Autumnwatch this week will know that the grey seal pupping season is just getting started up on the Isle of May. Down here we are right at the end of our season...or so we thought. In the past 4 days 10 pups have been born on our monitored beaches. This brings the total for the season to an estimated 730 (we count the 9 beaches accurately then use a formula…

    • 30 Oct 2020
  • 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