Like everywhere it's been a warm week on Ramsey. Heatwaves are a rarity out here thanks to the surrounding cool sea, anything over 20c is considered 'hot' by our standards. This week we saw the mercury register at 25c or over on 5 consecutive days (max 27c on two days). Our weather data set only goes back to 2005 but this is the first time we've recorded 25c or over on anything more than two days. The record since 2005 is 29c in 2006 and there have been numerous single days of 27c but these have always been 'one offs', surrounded by days in the low 20's. We also recorded our warmest ever night time minimum this week when the temperature didn't drop below 20c on two nights. Not often you have to sleep with all the windows open!
Today it is still warm but there is light cloud cover and a gentle easterly breeze. It is humid though and some much needed rain is nearby, but the latest radar looks like it might miss us.
Before the hot weather took hold we recorded a new breeding species for the year and one not seen since 1973! A fledgling cuckoo was being fed by a meadow pipit around the arable plot. A once common breeder this species has been declining nationally. In recent years we sometimes failed to record any records on migration. This year was a good year however with at least three birds logged in the spring, one a long staying singing male (and one clearly a female!)
I joked that we should look out for young this year but never really expected it. It was fascinating to see the meadow pipit frantically searching for food for its begging fledgling. However when it came to feeding the bird it was clearly very wary. A nagging voice must have been telling it something 'wasn't right' but its instinct to feed the imposter it had formed a bond with was just too strong. Whenever the young cuckoo flew, the meadow pipit went with it, shadowing its every move. Its a remarkable breeding strategy and one I had never seen in the flesh before so this was a real privilege. The fact they managed to breed on Ramsey (and nearby Skomer I'm told) is hopefully a sign they did well in general this year.
Fledgling cuckoo on Ramsey - bottom photo shows adult meadow pipit with food (© G Morgan)
The spell of settled weather has meant boats running to the island every day we are open with little need to even check forecasts or have in depth discussions with skippers. Millpond like seas saw us head out for an evening trip in our island boat to experience the Manx shearwaters returning to the islands. With close on a million individuals breeding on Skomer (350k pairs), Skokholm (90k pairs), Middleholm (16k pairs) and Ramsey (5k pairs), not to mention the vast numbers of non breeders, calm evenings in June and July see a 'shearwater highway' form off the west coast of Ramsey as birds flood back to their island breeding sites, waiting for the cover of darkness to come ashore safely.
To view this from the a mainland headland (try St Davids Head or Strumble Head if you can) or to quietly sit among them in a boat is one of the nature's magical spectacles. The conveyor belt of birds appears non stop, starting up around 8pm and continuing well after the sun has set it is impossible to count. Best just to sit back and enjoy! The Celtic Sea is a very special place for seabirds and it is vital we continue to protect these waters.
Stream of Manx shearwaters in front of the Bishops and Clerks at Sunset (© G Morgan)
(To view photos in higher res on a laptop or PC click on image)
Ramsey is open to the public from Sunday to Thursday every week up until the end of October (weather permitting). Spaces are limited this year so please phone Thousand Islands Expeditions on 01437 721721 to book. If you would like to support our work on the island you can do so by joining the Friends of Ramsey (you will recieve a biannual newsletter and enjoy free landing on the island (boat fee separate))
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