Thankfully, the dearth of fruit has been temporarily remedied but far more disturbing and arguably more detrimental to the wellbeing of island staff was running out of red wine last weekend. However, seeing the sun today has lifted the spirits and our first daffodils are positively glowing in the garden, just in time for St David’s day.
Skylarks are singing over territories today as are the rock pipits along the coastline. Greg came across a flock of 16 chough on the east coast, keeping out of the brisk NW wind and frantically feeding on the grazed cliff top. Despite the big swell, a small neap tide means the pebbles are staying dry on the ‘Bachelor Pad’ and at Porth Lleuog, attracting large numbers of adult Grey seals. 123 were hauled out on the latter yesterday, the majority are large bull seals, finishing their annual moult. The musty odour they give off was pungent even from way up on the cliff top above the beach.
Rabbits also appear to be making a comeback after four years of very low numbers following myxomatosis. I have been out reinforcing my vegetable garden fence in readiness for the inevitable onslaught.
Greg and Dewi have also been out surveying the population of Three-lobed water-crowfoot, Ranunculus tripartitus, one of our rare aquatic plants and a UKBAP priority species. It enjoys the conditions in the ditches and streams that run between our heathland ponds, kept open by our ponies and deer. This scarce member of the buttercup family appears to be thriving, with large areas containing many plants which will flower in early spring.
It’s now 16 days since we last saw another person. The rough weather well and truly set in and the continuing swell in the harbour has made it more like a washing machine than a safe haven for landing boats. It’s now four weeks since our last shopping trip and we are getting a little low on vegetables and our fruit bowl contains just one, rather wrinkly looking apple, that neither of us have the heart to eat. I think I might just give it to the blackbirds to avoid any arguments!
Despite the bank voles hollowing out the insides of the Swedes in my vegetable garden, leaving only a thin shell and taking the tops of my parsnips, when I dug just below the surface I managed to find some great parsnips underneath, what a relief. We also have some good leeks that should last us a few more weeks. Any suggestions for deterring the hungry voles and preventing island staff getting scurvy in 2011 would be gratefully received.
It's been a bit windy out here these last few days! SW winds have reached server gale force 9. Those of you who have landed on Ramsey might be interested to know what the harbour can look like in winter! These were taken on the high tide this morning. Think we'll give shopping a miss this week!
Just to conclude Greg's sheepy tale from last week;
Our ewes expecting twins are now settled on the mainland, having been transported across Ramsey sound. It took three trips from Ramsey to St Justinians in Derek’s small boat; but in under an hour all 34 sheep were back on dry land.
They were walked calmly up the road from the lifeboat station to their new field, happily grazing the hedgerows on the way. So the sheep are content and we’ll be happy in April when lambing should go by smoothly, with no small twins to hand-rear.
Well actually there may be one set of twins. The first lamb I ever bottle reared, named ‘Ruby’ and now 3 years old is also expecting twins, but I couldn’t stand to see her leave the island without me. When Greg and Derek came to move the rest of the sheep off, I managed to hide her! I’ll keep an eye on her over the next few months and give her a helping hand if she needs it.