• News From The Rock #34 - What a difference a day makes

    I was hoping to be reporting on some much needed rain today but unfortunately we got nothing more than a brief splash and even that was the kind you need to run around in to get wet. Instead we went from shorts and t-shirts and temperatures that reached 26c to a bitingly fierce northerly wind and the fire re-lit!

    May was the driest on record (since we started regular recordings in 2005) which followed on from the second…

    • 3 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #33 - Blyth's Reed: got there in the end!

    Yesterday morning the garden was alive with an unfamiliar song - a near non-stop medley of whistles and bells. There were scratchy notes too and I suspected reed warbler. Now reed warbler isn't a rare bird in the UK but it is very scarce on Ramsey with only a handful of records over the past 20 years and it's at least that long since I've heard one singing! I got some recordings and was about to send to mainland friends…

    • 30 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #32 - After The Storm

    After reporting doom and gloom last week with regards to our kittiwakes following two days of gale force winds and spring tides it would appear that all is not lost. I went to check on one of our small sub colonies and found birds busily rebuilding. The colony is at Bendro, a Welsh word for 'dizzy', and the towering cliffs above the cave these birds nest on tell you why. Luckily for the 'kitts', or more likely the reason…

    • 28 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #31 - A Splash Of Colour

    After the gale force south westerlies, coupled with spring tides, over the last few days it was a relief to find the majority of our guillemots and razorbills appear to have survived unscathed. Our friends and neighbours on Skokholm and Skomer have been reporting storm losses in some sub-colonies. The advantage Ramsey has is 100+m cliffs meaning most of our birds don't breed below around 20-30m, safe from the 9m swells…

    • 24 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #30 - A Bit Of A Blow

    Finally we've had some rain. 11mm overnight was a decent drop but unfortunately it looks like being the only rain we'll get between now and the month end. So far in May we've had 15mm of rain, if it stays that way it will be the driest May since regular records began in 2005 (on the back of the second driest April). Today's gale force south westerlies, the remnants of tropical storm Arthur from the other side of the Atlantic…

    • 22 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #29 - Battle of The Lords of Ramsey

    As the breeding season progresses there are inevitable clashes between the island's avian residents. Ravens, the unofficial Lords of Ramsey given their Norse association with the island's original name Hrafns-ey (Ravens Isle) have a inextricable link to this land dating back over 1000 years. Chough, in many people's eyes the true owner of this title, may well have done battle with their arch enemies while Viking's sheltered…

    • 19 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #28 - Rumble In The Jungle

    Following on from our first Manx shearwater egg in our study plot nest boxes a week ago, we now have 4 eggs at the weekly check carried out yesterday (the same number we had by this date last year when we ended up with 11 eggs in total). Competition for prime nest locations and mates would seem to be heating up judging by the video footage captured in the past week. There are plenty of empty nest boxes and even more vacant…

    • 16 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #27 - Looking After The Lawnmowers

    As our 10 pairs of chough plough on through the breeding season I've been busy the past couple of days carrying out jobs on the livestock that help provide these special birds with perfectly cropped swards on which to feed, namely our flock of Welsh mountain ewes. With just under 100 ewes grazing the northern half of the island, animal husbandry and shepherding work is part and parcel of my life on Ramsey. I couldn't…

    • 12 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #26 - Shearwaters Under Starters Orders

    It was a warm and sunny bank holiday on Ramsey. Normally a time when we share this spectacular island with our lovely visitors and supporters. Hopefully this blog goes a small way to compensating for that in these present times. The birds don't stop for bank holiday though and they were making the most of the lovely weather before a cold Arctic snap arrives on Sunday. Whitethroats, one of the last migrants back from Africa…

    • 8 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #25 - Bringing You A Bit Closer To Pembrokeshire

    As we all know visiting Pembrokeshire just isn't possible at the moment. If you are missing your annual visit to the County or maybe feel inspired to give us a try for the first time when safe to do so then a new publication might help satisfy you in the meantime. Simply titled 'Pembrokeshire', author and naturalist Jonathan Mullard visited Ramsey during the writing of his new book and interviewed island staff and…

    • 5 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #24 - Dawn Chorus Day

    There seems to be a 'day' for just about everything now but International Dawn Chorus Day is of particular importance as it helps bring people together to focus on the nature that is literally on their doorstep and hopefully make them appreciate it all the more. Over the past 50 years the UK has lost over 40 million birds and the focus for environmental charities has never been greater.  

    One of the few positives…

    • 3 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #23 - Sunny Saturday

    The 16mm of rain the other day now feels like a distant memory with the ground seemingly as cracked and dried as it was after 6 weeks of no rain. More rain is forecast for this week but we need something a bit more substantial and prolonged please (I know I'll regret saying that!).

    Keeping the buildings and visitor infrastructure in good working order is an important annual task. And just because we can't share the…

    • 2 May 2020
  • News From The Rock #22 - Rain, finally

    Somewhere in an earlier I blog I wrote about how wet the winter had been and commented that it had been surprisingly dry for the time of year since my permanent return for the season. I said I hoped we weren't going from 'feast to famine'....but that's how it has proved. Overnight we had 6mm of rain, nothing spectacular until you consider in those 6 hours we had as much rain as the whole of the previous 6 weeks combined…

    • 29 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #21 - Chough Roost Video

    For the past few nights we've been out around sunset checking out the chough roost on the west coast of the island. Communal roosting is a big part of chough society and serves several purposes. The obvious ones are keeping warm and safety in numbers after dark, but they also serve as a channel for information exchange and a good way to meet potential future partners. Chough don't breed until they are 2 or 3 years old…

    • 27 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #20 - The Lords of Ramsey

    I usually write this blog in the evening but for the last few nights we've been out trying to assess how many chough are coming in to roost on Ramsey in the evenings. The answer seems to be a lot! We're heading out again this evening so I'll post something a bit more comprehensive tomorrow, hopefully with some half decent photos and video (don't hold me to that though!)

    The title of this blog however refers…

    • 25 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #19 - The hidden world of Manx shearwaters

    Today marks World Earth Day and in the current situation we find ourselves in a lot of people are turning to nature on a global scale to find solace and provide inspiration on their daily walks. To me no species on Ramsey says 'global' quite like the Manx shearwater. We always talk about 'our' Manxies and to some extent they are as over 90% of the world's population breed on islands around the UK coast. Wales is home…

    • 22 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #18 - Fussy Chough

    After the rain of Friday and Saturday it was a return to dry and sunny weather yesterday and again today with the now familiar easterly airflow dominating. While yesterday was warm, today saw the wind in the NE which had a distinct chill to it. We continued with our chough watches and now have 7 of the 10 nest sites confirmed as incubating. I wish I could show you photos of some of the spectacular caves the birds nest…

    • 20 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #17 - Owl takeover

    Finally some rain! A decent 11mm in the gauge this morning and it rained on and off all day too. After over 3 weeks of nothing it was long overdue. Not sure there is too much more to come though for the foreseeable though

    The day was fairly typical with sheep feeding, Manx shearwater box checks (no new arrivals last night), chough nest site checks (most incubating now but a few still to go) and computer work in front of…

    • 18 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #16 - A visitor from the East (probably)

    After feeding the sheep first thing I left the quad bike parked up in the field and decided to head over to check out our secluded east coast bays. The wind has been in the east for some time now and the garden was full of common migrants so all the main 'migrant hotspots' needed checking. I arrived at Ogof Capel, the site where St Justinians chapel was said to once stand, now a deep cut cove thick with vegetation. I…

    • 16 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #15 - Summer Winter Mash Up

    The warm weather of the rather strange Easter weekend (strange as in we should have been welcoming hoards of lovely visitors to the island but instead the harbour sat empty) has been replaced this week by a chill north easterly airflow, although it is still sunny. After the very wet winter the island is drying up fast with no rain to speak of for over 3 weeks. It looks like we might get a bit this weekend and it will…

    • 15 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #14 - Chough Easter eggs

    With 10 pairs of chough having started nest building by end of the first week of April we began checking on these sites today for signs that clutches had been laid and incubation was underway. The female carries out all the incubation duties but only begins once a full clutch is laid (up to 6-7 eggs usually). The male bird feeds her during this time so once you start seeing single birds busily feeding in our sheep grazed…

    • 13 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #13 - More Manxies

    Following on from the news last week of the first Manx shearwater back in the nest box colony, the last few nights have seen ever increasing arrivals. We paid another visit to the colony today and 2 more pairs were back in the same boxes they left last September. In that time they have flown around 14,000 miles each to and from the east coast of Argentina. In a long running project with Oxford University and our own RSPB…

    • 12 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #12

    The last few days have seen far from typical weather for the beginning of April - 17c has been logged for 2 days running, we sometimes don't seen those sort of temperatures out here until mid May. The calm settled weather has seen a surge in migrants passing through, the most numerous being willow warblers. Double figures have been logged for the past 4 days with a peak of 27 on 9th April. Fresh in from Africa these birds…

    • 11 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #11 - The wanderers return

    Every spring we look forward to a particular event on Ramsey, an event that can only be experienced in a handful of places anywhere in the world....the return of Manx shearwaters to their breeding burrows. Over 90% of the world population of this species breed in the UK with over 50% breeding right here in Pembrokeshire. Skomer island, just 6 miles south of Ramsey hosts the largest colony in the world with 350,000 pairs…

    • 7 Apr 2020
  • News From The Rock #10 - Signs of spring and a goodbye

    There was a warmth in the air today not felt as yet this year. Gloves and hats were discarded for a while giving a glimpse of what might lie ahead. The vegetation on Ramsey is always a long way behind that on the mainland thanks to our harsh micro climate. Daffodils are barely out in time for St Davids Day but by April Fools are still in full bloom in sheltered areas around the buildings. So while the island still bears…

    • 3 Apr 2020