• 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
  • News From The Rock #42 - Little Owls

    Little owls have long been a feature on Ramsey with many local birders visiting here or Skomer specifically to see them as they are so scarce on the mainland these days. Sadly even here numbers are dwindling. We used to have around 3 pairs most years, sometimes as high as 5, but this year we are down to just a single pair. Nothing has changed habitat or food availability wise on Ramsey, (Skomer has seen similar declines…

    • 2 Jul 2020
  • Update: Ramsey Island Remaining Closed

    After very careful consideration, we have decided that RSPB Ramsey Island will remain closed for the remainder of the 2020 visitor season. We are adhering strictly to Welsh Government coronavirus guidelines in the workplace and, after examining all options, are unable to maintain the required social distancing when loading and disembarking passengers on and off the island boat. In addition, it is necessary to keep our…

    • 30 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #41 - Bon Voyage Neighbours

    On Saturday morning we woke up to the sight of a small rowing boat anchored off the east coast of the island. Seeing anyone this year has been a rarity let alone a craft as small as this what in was rapidly deteriorating weather conditions. Being nosy I got my binoculars out and noticed a big blue and white NHS symbol on the side and a web site address....

    A few clicks later and I discovered I was looking at the Rowing…

    • 29 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #40 - Every Story Has A Beginning

    The story of the Manx shearwater on Ramsey has been told many times on this blog with the boom in their population since rat eradication well documented. This increase has allowed us to install nest boxes to more closely track a section of our breeding population and this in turn has given rise to stories within stories as we go from a population level knowledge to knowing the intimate lives of individuals.

    Being nocturnal…

    • 27 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #39 - What happened to June?

    After the hazy days of summer back in April and May with talk of droughts, it was a relief to get some rain this month. However, like most things connected with British weather things went too far. We have now had more rain in June than April and May combined and as I type this a fire is glowing in the wood burner and I chatted to colleagues on a Zoom meeting today wearing a puffer jacket while they were in t-shirts!

    • 22 Jun 2020
  • World Albatross Day

    The first time I saw an albatross I was blown away. I was in NZ working on shearwaters and took a day off to go on a boat trip in the hope of seeing something different and I certainly did. A Gibson's wandering albatross started off as a speck on the horizon before it filled my binocular vision and gave me one of my most awe inspiring wildlife moments. With a 3m wingspan and weighing between 8-10Kg it was a privilege…

    • 19 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #38 - A mixed bag

    You know you are living on an island when in the space of 48 hours you can go from shorts and t-shirt with a cold beer and a BBQ to fleece and woolly hat with a hot chocolate! If any month is going to throw that at you, June will. Flaming June one minute but the sea is still cold so a rapidly warming land often brings dense fog and drizzle or humidity and thunderstorms.

    Sure enough this week we've had a bit of everything…

    • 17 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #37 - Chough Update

    Finally we have seen some rain! 17mm fell the day before last, more than the whole of May combined. It was good, slow, steady rain that allowed the ground to absorb it. With more forecast over the coming week (possible thunderstorms this evening) and with temperatures rising a bit the prospects for some grass growth are looking more positive.

    I had feared the drought would have a negative impact on our breeding chough…

    • 12 Jun 2020
  • Helping Hand on World Gin Day

    Regular readers of this blog and supporters of RSPB Ramsey and RSPB Cymru will already know we like a drop or two of gin on this island! And not just for medicinal purposes at the end of a long day of shepherding or seabird fieldwork but because, thanks to our partnership with our friends from St Davids Gin, it provides much needed additional financial support for our conservation work on Ramsey and Grassholm

    For the past…

    • 11 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #36 - One In One Out

    Apologies to any readers who saw this blog pop up yesterday briefly and then disappear! I wrote the text and then had issues loading the video so in the end had to delete the lot and start again today! 

    It's been a busy day of seabird monitoring so it's nearly 10pm before I'm getting round to doing this but the good news is I'm still in time to post something for World Oceans Day - and what better subject…

    • 8 Jun 2020
  • News From The Rock #35 - The Mud Gatherers

    For the past few days we've been watching the forecast carefully, hoping for rain. So far we've been disappointed. Random showers, the odd millimetre here and there in the gauge, all useless in the long run. The irony was I had to dash down the garden yesterday and got briefly soaked rescuing the washing from an errant band of rain that quickly came to nothing. Today looked our best bet, even this morning the rain radars…

    • 6 Jun 2020
  • 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