Ramsey Island and Grassholm

Ramsey Island and Grassholm

Ramsey Island and Grassholm
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Ramsey Island and Grassholm

  • Seal Pup Birth

    Seal pups are being born all over the island’s beaches this week as we near peak season for pup births here in Pembrokeshire. With between 600 and 750 pups born on Ramsey each autumn there is never a better chance of witnessing a cow giving birth for yourself.

    This one gave birth on the little beach under the farmhouse on Saturday; luckily I was in the harbour and spotted her in labour, clearly experiencing strong contractions. I just managed to dash back to the house for the camera before she delivered her pup. 30 seconds from start to finish!

    Grey Seal birth sequence - Lisa Morgan

  • A Varied Day

    No two days are ever the same out here. There were no visitors today due to a stiff northerly meaning the boat could not run but we were far from idle! In fact it turned into a very varied day......

    We began by getting the sheep in. With this continued mild weather and flies still active we decided to treat them with a blowfly repellent now that their fleeces are starting to grow back. This should see them through to the end of autumn when the fly risk diminishes.

    Dewi in 'work mode' - he was a star today and saved us a lot of leg work!


    Job done!


    Then it was time to check on the Manx shearwater study burrows........

    There are still a few young shearwaters waiting to fledge. This bird is still showing some down and is too heavy to leave at the moment but will probably do so within the week. Most have departed for the long flight to Argentina now and the colonies are quiet again after a busy summer

    Then there was just about time to fit the seal round in before the tide rose too much.......

    There were 122 grey seal pups on the monitored beaches today of which 60 are on Aber Mawr alone! Both shearwaters and seal pups have benefited from such a calm September this year

    It was late afternoon by now and we shot down to the harbour to meet Derek who was delivering our new quad bike on the high tide. We change them every 4 years as we get a very good part exchange deal and incur far lower maintenance costs as a result. The overall cost to the RSPB is much lower doing it this way

    Off with the old red bike and......

    ....on with the new green one!

    All in all a pretty enjoyable way to spend a Saturday!

    The forecast is much more settled for tomorrow and Monday so hopefully boats will be running again. Contact Thousand Islands Expeditions on 01437 721721 to check and to book a place on the boat - the seal pups will be here till the end of October

  • Old Friend Number 13

    Ramsey is one of the most important breeding locations for Atlantic Grey Seals in the Irish Sea and the Southwest of Britain. Between 600 and 750 pups are born on the island’s beaches and in our caves each year. Must pups are born in September and October although some early pups are born in August and late pups can be born up until Christmas.

    Ramsey Cow 13 just after giving birth

    We have been regularly photographing individual seals here since 2007 in order to track their behavior and movements from one year to the next. Many seals have distinctive scars on their body which allow us to recognise them more easily. Scars can be caused by environmental sources like collision with rocks or scratches from the beach and some are caused when seals fight with other seals. Sadly, many are caused by contact with marine rubbish, especially discarded fishing gear which can result in nasty wounds, usually around the neck and head.

    Many well known females have returned to Ramsey to give birth already this year, here’s a couple of interesting stories:

    Ramsey Cow Number 13 – Nickname - Minnie Mouse (because of scar pattern – Well I can see it even if no-one else can!)

    Ramsey Cow Number 13's pup

    This cow came into the little beach under the Ramsey farmhouse at 09:30 this morning to give birth to her 2014 pup, 12 days later than in 2013. She has pupped on the same little Ramsey beach called ‘Aber Felin’ since 2012, but also pupped twice on neighbouring Skomer Island in both 2008 and 2010. In fact she has been known to many island seal researchers since 2001. Her full history has been collected by successive Wildlife Trust staff and myself. I actually remember her from when I worked on Skomer in 2005 and like to think that she followed me north when I moved to Ramsey!

    This photo was taken this morning and shows her pup just after it was born. The blood is just from the birthing process, you can still see the umbilical cord, still attached on the rocks.

    Below is Ramsey Cow Number 13's full history. (Her Skomer number is 006).  Thanks to our friends and fellow seal workers – Jim Poole, Jane Matthews, Dave Boyle for the Skomer sightings over many years and to Ed and Bee who continue this work on Skomer today.

    Cow

    12.RC013.AFN / LBK-006

    Date

    Island

    Site

    Status

    30 Sept 2001

    Skomer

    Castle Bay

    Hauled-out

    30 Oct 2004

    Skomer

    Castle Bay

    Hauled-out

    28 Oct 2005

    Skomer

    Driftwood Bay

    Hauled

    26 Nov 2006

    Skomer

    Driftwood Bay

    Hauled

    6-19 Nov 2007

    Skomer

    Castle Bay

    Hauled

    6-18 Sept 2008

    Skomer

    South Haven

    Mother of pup

    29/8 – 20/9 2010

    Skomer

    South Haven

    Pup born 30 Aug 2010, 

    30 Aug 2011

    Skomer

    South Haven

    Pregnant cow but not seen with pup

    28 August 2012

    Ramsey

    Aber Felin

    Mother with pup

    16/10-23/11 2012

    Skomer

    Various

    Hauled-out

    3 September 2013

    Ramsey

    Aber Felin

    Pup born 09:00 3 September

    15 September 2014

    Ramsey

    Aber Felin

    Pup born @ 09:30