Our assistant warden, Denise, has been busy over the past few weeks counting our auk colony. I thought you would be pleased to know the outcome! Including the lighthouse island (which is not technically part of the reserve) we have had a 23% increase in Guillemot numbers, a whopping 8014! The Razorbills have also increased 27% to an incredible 1147 individuals. These records are fabulous and there are plenty of chicks around at the moment to continue this trend into the future.
Our current residential volunteer, Sally, counted a fantastic 21 Puffins out and about on Sunday night. Please let us know how many you've seen...
Our Chough families are doing well, we have plenty of fledglings out and about. The Mousetrap pair (that were on the webcam) only have one fledgling with them, although this may be a bit misleading and we have reason to believe that at least one of their offspring was adopted by one of our other Chough families! I'm still hopeful that all three of the missing chicks are being cared for in this way.
Please chip in with anything exciting you see around the reserve...
Ever since I moved to the area I have been on the lookout for a badger. I have gone on evening walks, been taken to known badger setts and have peered out into the night on car journeys. Last week i was delighted and surprised when one of our visitors came in weilding her camera and showed us amazing photographs of young badgers taken on the range part of the reserve in broad daylight! Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to finish work for the day to go and see them for myself. Eager to catch a glimpse of a such a wonderful and elusive animal I went for an early evening stroll with Ken (loal bird expert and now RSPB volunteer) and Mark (another People Enagagement Assistant on the reserve). We tentatively tip-toed beside the hedgerows until, as we turned a corner, we saw a glorious, fluffy, badger bottom! I needn't tell you how ecstatic I was. As we turned yet another corner we were greeted by two more fluffy behinds, a total of three gorgeous baby badgers! By this point I was completely in a 'badgery' world of my own. I sat amongst the colourful grasses and flowers of the meadow in awe of my waddling, munching companions (the badgers, not Ken and Mark!). Within about five minutes one of the youngsters had wandered just two metres away from where I was sat, looked me square in the eye and then carried on munching! I could barely breathe.
I don't think I'll ever beat that badger experience - I'm in love!
You may, or may not know that BirdLife International is a bird conservation organisation that works all around the world with partners such as the RSPB. On Friday, I was invited to join BirdLife and Anglesey Aluminium for a day of birding aimed at the children in our community.
BirdLife work with Rio Tinto, the owners of Anglesey Aluminium, to encourage them on a corporate and personal level to be more interested in the environment around us, particularly focussing on birds. Although it was a really wet affair, it was a really good day. The children, from local schools, were in awe of the wildlife and were happy to be outdoors and learning about birds. An event such as this could not have taken place without a keen environmentalist among the ranks. Luckily, Anglesey Aluminium have Steve on hand to arrange the events, twice a year. I was lucky enough to travel around with Steve for the day, along with Mia from BirdLife International, Aled from the local AONB, and Ken a local birding expert.
The day turned into a bit of a bird-race for us adults, as we travelled around the island we ticked off 77 species which we were pretty happy with considering the weather. The youngsters at Cemlyn were thrilled to reunite a lost Ringed Plover chick with it's parents and the kids at Penrhos Country Park spotted loads of birds and were eager to learn from us which was brilliant.
You can find out more about BirdLife International on their website http://www.birdlife.org/ or about our partnership with them on our website http://www.rspb.org.uk/international/birdlife.aspx.
Ta ta for now x
Last Saturday, Denise (South Stack’s assistant warden) and I joined a collection of organisations for the Holyhead Breakwater Park’s Nature Discovery Day. We used the event to publicise the RSPBs ‘Make Your Nature Count’ survey, handing out leaflets and information about studying the wildlife in your garden. We also handed out ‘bird bingo’ to the younger visitors to encourage them to spot birds and the places that they nest.
It was a truly lovely family day out and it was a pleasure to stand alongside other conservation and environmental organisations such as the Wildlife Trust, Keep Wales Tidy, the Countryside Council for Wales and PONT (the Welsh arm of the grazing advice partnership). It is PONT who enable us to graze the mountain over the autumn months, providing suitable feeding grounds and a wealth of insect life for our Chough population, among a host of others in the foodchain.
After the event, it was back to work at South Stack where hundreds of visitors had been enjoying the good weather and sampling our wildlife.
This week has been very interesting in terms of our bird populations, with colony counts and fledging taking place, but more on that in my next blog... For now all I can say is that all of our Mousetrap Chough chicks have left the nest! Denise is out and about today looking for fledglings and I will let you know how she gets on. Incidentally, if you do find yourself at South Stack anytime soon and you spot and Chough family groups, please do come into the visitor centre or Ellins Tower and let us know (especially if you can see the rings).
Ciao for now x
So we've said goodbye to yet another two of our residential volunteers, Roy and Chris, and welcomed our next pair, Jean and Richard. Our residential volunteers stay with us for week-long, or two week, stints and help us on the reserve by helping us to inform visitors of the work of the RSPB and of the wildlife on the reserve. This year ,with the opening of our new visitors centre, the volunteers have also been giving us a hand in the cafe and the shop. There are a couple of weeks this summer where there are still spaces for volunteers, so if it interests you then email us on email@example.com .
As I type, we have just one Chough left in the Mousetrap nest. I can hear calls from the parents trying to entice him out and a few reassuring squawks from his brother or sister down below. This last Chough has now been in the nest for approaching six weeks and I'm sure Mum and Dad would appreciate some rest! It's not fabulous weather for fledging today, but we expect this little guy to hang around on ledges in the cave for a little while before embarking on his journey into the big wide world. When this last chick is fully fledged we expect to see the surviving juveniles feeding with the parents and so we'll have a better idea of how they've got on.
This Sunday, weather permitting, I will be taking visitors on a tour of the reserve looking for our 'bouncing baby birds!'. Ask in the visitor centre or Ellins Tower on Sunday if you want to join me. Another baby to look out for on your way up the road to the reserve is our resident baby Hare, a leveret. I regularly see him following close behind his Mum, and with Dad not far away, in the fields alongside the road.
If you've not visited our new cafe yet, then why not come along this week? Breakfast is served 10-11, lunch 11-3 and hot drinks and cakes are available all day 10am-5pm. If you visit our shop before June 21st you can get a 6 pack of suet cakes for a bargain 85p and 100g packs of mealworm are down to £1.99 or three bags for a fiver!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend,