A cold month on Ramsey Island following on from a very cold winter has affected some species. Chough were a bit late to get going, more interested in feeding up after a tough few winter months than getting round to breeding. First nest building was on 22/3. By the end of the month 5 pairs had been confirmed with another 3 on territory and we hope they will start nest building soon.
Lapwing had an equally tough winter and although it is too early for us to establish final breeding numbers yet, a max of 6 birds displaying is down on recent years at this stage.
Another species seemingly hit by the weather is stonechat. They disappeared from the island after Christmas and only a very few have returned so far.
Wheatears however, which spend the winter in Africa, have returned in apparently good numbers. In 2009 we had 115 pairs nesting on Ramsey (over 25% of the Pembrokeshire population) and the first migrants returned on 7/3 this year. Male birds are the first to be seen as they head back in advance of the females to reclaim their territories.
Other regular breeders setting up territory are peregrine falcon (2 pairs), buzzard (2 pairs) and raven (4 pairs). Skylarks and meadow pipits have been singing for most of the month, a sure sign that spring is round the corner……
Returning migrant dates include chiffchaff (25/3) and sand martin (19/3). Two merlins (a male and a female) were seen on and off during March. A red kite on 25/3 was a relatively rare sight out here.
Our cliff nesting auks (guillemots and razorbills) have been on and off the ledges throughout March. They will keep up this sporadic attendance until they lay their eggs in late April / early May.
Moulting grey seals can be readily seen around the island at this time of year. Up to 150 have been hauled out on the main beaches during March and good numbers should continue through April. Anyone approaching by boat should do so with care as they are very jumpy at this time of year and moulting is a very important process for them; the quality of their new coat affecting their health for the remainder of the year. An out of season seal pup was born in early March. It has done very well and is on the verge of weaning.