Ramsey Island closed on 31st October after another lovely visitor season. This is a blogg report by Lisa Morgan, Warden on Ramsey Island.
“ And so after 214 days, 49 volunteers, 155 lambs, 22 chough fledglings and 4,500 day visitors, the 2011 season spluttered to a close. We saw our last visitors of the year on Friday with this weekend too rough for any landings. And today’s scary Hallowe’en gale was the final nail in the coffin.
Things are quieter with just Greg, Dewi and I on the island and the wildlife is already taking advantage. Moulted seal pups are using the concrete harbour wall and steps to gain some respite from the spring tide swells. One has been in the same sleeping position on the metal grill leading down to the low tide landing for three days, a good fifteen feet out of the water.
The younger pups on the Aber Felin and harbour beaches are also enjoying the solitude, although they are totally unfazed by the comings and goings of the Gower Ranger and our visitors when we are open.
Pup numbers are decreasing quite rapidly now as we would expect by the end of October. There were only a dozen pups under three weeks old on the big Aber Mawr rookery yesterday. However, we had a definite flush of newborns again last week on the east coast beaches and several large, pregnant cows are hauled out in readiness of their imminent pups.
We were still hearing Manx shearwater calling over the house on Saturday night, which was very dark with the new moon. Fulmars have reclaimed their ledges on the island’s cliffs after a period of absence. They always disappear out to sea after the breeding season, where they complete their annual moult. It is great to see them soaring effortlessly around our bays again, filling the void left by our other seabirds during the winter months.
The island has a really autumnal feel all of a sudden, with dull days and dark nights and a decent amount of rain. We seem to have seen the last of the late Swallows and Wheatears, but birds of prey are takings advantage of a glut of moving skylarks, pipits and starlings with Hen Harrier quartering over the heath and Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine all out hunting. ”
Take a look at Greg and Lisas RSPB blog page RSPB blog page
Wildlife and Bird Watching records on Ramsey Island by Wardens Greg and Lisa
Sea watching is to the fore in autumn and this year was a good one by Ramsey standards thanks to several favourable weather
systems. Bird highlights for Sept and Oct were: Sabine’s gull 7 (4 ads and 3 juvs), sooty shearwater 12, Balearic shearwater 12, Leach’s petrel 1, Pomarine skua 5, Arctic skua 60, Bonxie 51, Common Scoter 107, Med gull 2, GN diver 3, Sandwich tern 158 and ‘commic’ tern 200+.
Away from the sea, highlights were black redstart (4/9), GS woodpecker (29/9-1/10), hen harrier (5/9 and 27/10), house sparrow (16 in total), red kite (15/9), ring ouzel (14/10), bullfinch (20/10 and 26/10), snow bunting (28/10), wryneck (4/9-13/9), whinchat (2 on 4/9) and tree pipit (15/9).
The first redwing and fieldfare of the year were both recorded on 14/10. Movement of skylarks totalled 400+ west by end of October, with 15k+ swallows in same period (with late birds still moving on 28/10). Manx shearwaters were heard over the farmhouse on the night of 29/10 (around the new moon) and fulmars were back on ledges after their post season moult on 30/10.
The warm weather at the beginning of October saw the appearance of two hummingbird hawkmoths and other migrant moths, Vestal
and L-album Wainscot were trapped. Risso’s dolphin were logged on both the 6 and 7/10
Yes, we had a break in the weather in Pembrokeshire and everyone wanted to take a boat trip over to explore Ramsey Island RSPB Nature Reserve. There was a lot of bird activity on the island and as normal the island was stunning, there were a lot of Atlantic Grey Seals in the bays around Ramsey Island, harbour porpoise popping up all over Ramsey Sound and a Rissos Dolphin in Ramsey Sound. Back in St. Davids we were busy in the booking office and gift shop, so many people want boat trips this week but the weather is going to get windy again.
At the County show this year we held a colouring competition “Paint or draw what you would see on a boat trip with Thousand Island”. Below are our two winners and my scanner doesn’t do these pictures justice so we have put both pictures up on display in our booking office in the centre of St. Davids.
Charlotte Chambers, Age 7, from Wootton, Northampton
Jessica Balfour, Age 10, from Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire
Both young ladies have won a tripfor themselves and their families to land on Ramsey Island for the day. Well done girls the pictures are fabulous.
One of our visitors to Ramsey Island emailed me the following comment and photograph:
“My family and I recently embarked on one of your boats trip. I just wanted to write to commend all the staff both on the boat and on the island for making it such a fantastic day! I have lived in Pembrokeshire for many years and can’t believe I have taken the trip sooner. Many thanks, Jennifer Bland.
We were luck to catch a glimps of the local residents.” Photograph by: Jennifer Bland. Thanks Jennifer.
“The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park displays a greater variety of geological features and associated landforms than any equivalent area of the same size in the British Isles. The coastal scenery was the prime reason for the National Park’s designation.” Geologist Sid Howells spent the day with the South Wales Geologists Association on aboat trip around Ramsey and on the Island to study the geology of the area and a great day was had by all.
Here is a report from Ramsey Island RSPB Warden Lisa Morgan.
“So the summer holidays are here and despite a brisk westerly wind today, it is at least dry for a change! Lots of visitors made it over to explore the island and they had some good sightings of our resident Peregrines and the increasing flock of marauding Ravens, their numbers building as we move into late summer and autumn.
Chough are also easily seen at this time of the year, with family groups joining together to form large feeding flocks on the island’s short grazed grassland. Birds are even arriving from the mainland to feed on the numerous invertebrates, especially ants that the island supports. Going into the sheep fields, visitors are also getting good views of a family of little owls that fledged from a nest in a stone wall and now sit out during the day keeping a beady eye on proceedings.
Although the majority of our cliff-nesting seabirds have left for the year, there are still plenty of grey, fluffy fulmar chicks sitting proudly on their nests whilst their parents are out at sea fishing. But the main attraction around the coast is the returning Grey seals. We have already had the odd pup born in the island’s secluded caves and it will surely be just a matter of days before we start to see pups on the islands big beaches. Heavily pregnant female seals are busy checking out the best sites on which to have their pups in the coming weeks.
Harbour porpoises are being reported daily from the island, feeding in Ramsey sound, with gannets circling overhead. But more of a surprise to the crew of the Gower Ranger was a Basking Shark that came up alongside the boat just south of Ramsey harbour last week, giving brilliant views to all their passengers.
We took Iolo Williams across to Ramsey Island to record a programme for Radio Cymru. Ramsey Island Warden Greg Morgan posted the following entry on the Ramsey Island blog:
Wildlife presenter Iolo Williams visited Ramsey yesterday to record a programme for Radio Cymru about the natural history and farming of the island, discussing how the two go hand in hand with our
conservation management out here.
The programme was recorded in Welsh so cue our Reserve Assistant, Nia Stephens and our stockman Derek Rees! They spent the afternoon with Iolo and the BBC team in glorious weather. Derek is a bit of a veteran when it comes to media work but this was only the second time out for Nia so well done to both of them. Also contributing to the programme were naturalists from the BTO, CCW and Snowdonia National Parks.
Take a look at island life and visit the Ramsey Island blog by clicking on the following link: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/ramseyisland/b/ramseyisland-blog/default.aspx
Another good day, lots of seabirds around the island, plenty of seals on the beaches, 3 porpoise came up right besides us while we were drifting watching the diving gannets.
Gower Ranger sat off the South end of the island watching gannets diving into the sea, the porpoise were just a few hundred feet away.