You will remember that last summer we celebrated 20 years since the RSPB purchased Ramsey Island and we commissioned local artist Rhian Field to produce12 original oil paintings depicting the island’s iconic wildlife and landscape. Rhian is a scientist and self-taught artist whos work allows her to convey important messages about the vulnerability and complexity of the marine environment and our influence upon it. She has been supporting the RSPB’s marine campaign for better protection at sea.
Her stunning images were revealed at Oriel Y Parc in St Davids last July and have been to several other RSPB Cymru reserves since then, helping to attract visitors to Ramsey and highlight important marine issues.
If you missed the exhibition first time around The Torch Theatre in Milford Haven will be hosting an exhibition of Rhian’s work from 4th March until 26th April 2013. Rhian is hoping that it will be an ideal opportunity for families, groups, communities and organisations, to visit and enjoy the exhibition.The Ramsey Island Collection will be exhibited alongside Rhian’s Deepwater collection, which features evocative paintings of seabirds fishing underwater. Both original paintings and Limited Edition Prints are available to buy at the exhibition or through Rhian’s website. A percentage of the proceeds from sales will be donated to RSPB Cymru to help directly with our conservation work on Ramsey and Grassholm Islands.
This year Dr Sarah Beynon is running a series of insect walks on Ramsey Island. If you want to learn more about the fascinating insect life to be found here we would thoroughly recommend one of her walks to anyone of all ages and experience. For more info see poster below and to book a place contact Thousand Islands Expeditions on 01437 721721 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Sarah directly at email@example.com
Lisa and I were fortunate to spend some of our winter working on Hutton's shearwaters in New Zealand. This was thanks to the Hutton's shearwater charitable trust (also here on Facebook - they could do with a few more 'likes' please!) and Wildlife Management International - the company who eradicated Ramsey's rats 13 years ago. While there we went on a boat trip to try and see New Zealand storm petrel (we saw about 10 in the end). This species was though to be extinct for 150 years until they were rediscovered at sea in the Hauraki Gulf, just off Auckland, in 2003. No one knew where they were breeding though, until now. See here for full account of this amazing story.
Closer to home and the Skokholm Island blog has a post about a record breaking European storm petrel. Skokholm supports the largest population of this tiny seabird in Pembrokeshire with up to 2,000 pairs. Skomer is next with around 300 pairs. On Ramsey we have a small colony of around 10 pairs that established in 2008 following rat eradication, plus around 150 pairs nesting on the RSPB owned Bishops and Clerks, just off Ramsey.
Unfortunately marine debris continues to be a threat to our seabirds and marine mammals. Graphically illulstrated by this video on the plight of Laysan albatross on Midway Atoll. This is a global problem including here in the UK. We know too well the impact of discarded rope and netting on our gannets on Grassholm but plastic ingestion has also been shown in Northern Fulmars.
Hutton's shearwater at colony - Kaikoura
Finally the weather allowed us to carry out our annual sheep scanning. Thanks as ever to Hedd Davies for making the effort to come over to Ramsey. I'm sure it's one of the more novel places that he gets to work! He has to load his machine on to Derek's boat at Porth Clais, see it bounce it's way across Ramsey Sound before being unceremoniously hoisted out by our crane at this end. The job only usually takes about an hour and then the whole process begins again in reverse. All this has to be timed around the high tide so there is enough water to get under our crane which means Hedd is up against it!
We only lamb from singles out here as even our tough Welsh mountain ewes wold struggle to raise twins on our unimproved grass in April. So now we have to find another calm day so we can move those scanned with twins (plus any empties) off.
Dewi bringing sheep into the yard for scanning
Hedd Davies and his magic scanning machine!
For those of you planning to visit Pembrokeshire this year, or just want to keep up to date with other news from the County, I can highly recommend the following blogs:
Pembrokeshire Birds Blog
Skomer Island Blog
Skokholm Island Blog
Whales in Wales (for cetacean news)
Our boat operator Thousand Islands Expeditions as a Facebook page here
If she's not over here presenting TV programmes or studying our dung beetles then you can follow Sarah Beynon on Twitter.
Slightly further afield the Bardsey Island Blog is excellent too
And of course there are the RSPB Cymru Facebook and Twitter pages too
All these have further links to relevant and interesting blogs. Enjoy!