20 July 2016

Volunteering Ramsey Island RSPB Reserve

Kathy and I had our first taste of volunteering on Ramsey for the first two weeks of April 2016. We had a great time on a magical island, being made really wecome by Wardens Greg and Lisa and long-term Assistant Sarah. Our accommodation was 'The Bungalow' which was spacious if a bit chilly at times so early in the season, but soon felt like home.

The Red Deer were never far away and amazingly tame. It was quite strange to wake up to these just outside the front door.

There were amazing scenes as the weather changed frequently. Several mornings of mist made for a very strange atmosphere and spooky scenes like this waterfall of mist on the west coast.

Looking towards St Davids Head - Carn Llidi in the mist.
 We were up early every morning and looking for birds before work. One job being checking on Chough nest sites for signs of breeding activity.

Chough nest-site.
 Further signs of breeding were all around, here a Buzzard's nest with eggs tucked away into the cliffs on the east of the Island.

This Raven's nest was in a new position the birds having moved after a previously unsuccessful breeding attempt elsewhere.


The Ravens were a potential threat to the lambs in some circumstances and the first were being born during our tenure. Kathy here helping out with Sarah and Lisa with the first twins.

There were a few migrants too, though nothing very unusual but it was quite early in the year.

Common Sandpiper

White Wagtail
 The tide just piles through Ramsey Sound, which is one reason an experimental Tidal Turbine has been installed on the seabed here. The famous string of rocks called 'The Bitches' hold up the tide creating a kind of marine waterfall which kayakers love to test themselves against. Not always successfully as we saw.

We spent some time making and installing nestboxes for the increasing population of  Manx Shearwaters and there were other breeding species all around including Guillemots around the cliffs.


And my particular favourites the Little Owls, this pair had a nest in a wall just near The Bungalow so we could hear them in the evenings and see them most days. Even when they wanted to play hide 'n seek.

The first Short-eared Owl appeared but was seen only occasionally though I believe they were later confirmed as breeding. Hope so.

This sole male Lapwing was the only sign remaining of the breeding population. The last one in Pembrokeshire?

We were really concerned to find this Grey Seal wrapped up in a piece of cloth one morning but we needn't have worried, it was having a great time and played all sorts of games with it for hours.

 And another breeding resident with more of the everyday sights we lived with while we were having a brilliant time. Couldn't recommend it enough!


Sunrise over St Davids Head (God's own country)

And finally the Bishop Light as the sun goes down.

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