The stunning weather we've had recently may not have escaped your notice and here at South Stack we've been celebrating with our Puffin Fun weekend! The Puffins have been out in force, basking in the sunshine on the rocks. We ran guided walks yesterday where we saw numerous Stonechat families, Linnets, Rock Pipits, Whitethroat and the odd Peregrine, Kestrel and Buzzard. As the walks progressed down the steps towards the lighthouse we saw plenty of Guillemots with their young and Razorbills too. We decided to make our way across on to the lighthouse island in the late afternoon where we could get up close to Kittiwakes and their little chicks as well as close up views of more Guillemot and Razorbill families. Previous visitors to the island will know that it's full of gulls and at this time of year they are nesting, needless to say it can be very noisy and smelly! Yesterday, I was lucky enough to see chicks of Herring, Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull at various stages of development. The highlight for me being the "squeeking eggs" that Gavin from the lighthouse team told me about, which by the time I walked up there had started to emerge - a tiny newly hatched Lesser Black-backed Gull :) It even tried to crawl back into it's egg before Mum came back and settled down to brood him and the rest of her clutch.
The weather is beautiful again today so Ken and Jason will be running more guided walks, but if you come up in the week just pop in to Ellins Tower or the Visitor Centre and we'll point you in the right direction x
Today we had our first close-ups of an emerging baby Puffin, termed a Puffling. It was great to see him/her after all the waiting. It's parents were close at hand preening in the sunshine earlier today. If you want to see these little ones you'll have to come and visit soon as we expect them to leave to start their lives out at sea by mid-July. We are hoping that soon we will be able to bring you live footage of the cliffs that you can watch online.
The Cormorant colony up at North Stack has now left as the youngsters have fledged and it won't be long until our seabird colony follows suit.
There's been plenty of mammal activity too, with further sightings of Badgers as well as Hares, Rabbits, Shrews and Porpoise.
Adders have proved elusive recently...have you seen any?
After a short break in the East Midlands, I was welcomed back to the island with a boat trip around our dramatic coast. It was a truly wonderful way to view the reserve.
Setting off from Trearddur Bay on a rigid-hulled inflatable, our tour rook in the sights of the eastlerly part of the reserve (the range), the main seabird colony at South Stack and along the gigantic cliffs to North Stack. On the rocks surrounding Trearddur Bay we saw numerous Cormorants with young, stretching out their wings in that characteristic way. We were serenaded with one of my favourite calls as Oystercatchers flew back and forth.
From this watery perspective we could observe the amazing striations that make up our dramatic coastline and our skipper, Digs, was on hand to tell us about the geology and history of the area, including wrecks that are of such pivotal importance to this area's past.
We saw Ravens and Chough as we progressed round to South Stack as well as winessing the climbers attempting Castle Helen below Ellins Tower. As we entered the Mousetrap Zawn, we were greeted by a Puffin dabbling on the water as well as the glorious sight of Razorbills and Guillemots flying overhead. Seeing the colony on a daily basis from above, it was truly fantastic to have this Seals-eye view.
Talking of Seals, we saw two large male Grey Seals basking out on a rock near to North Stack and it's hidden caves. There was also an inquisitive female that popped up to say hello.
Maritime fun was not the end of yesterday's activities, after closing time Mark, John and Ken led a guided 'summer evening stroll' which proved a big success :) One of the participants - Caroline and her daughter Emily , who are new to the island, said " it's the best walk that they have been on in ages and can't wait to revisit the reserve and see all the wonderful wildlife again". The tour took in Chough, Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Gannets, Ravens, Stonechats, Linnets, Whitethroat and even a basking Common Lizard! After the walk it was back to the Visitor Centre for Leek and Potato soup which I've been told needs special aclaim...so thank you to Rhiann for making such yummy soup for everybody!
See you later Alligators x
Our auk colony; the Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins have stayed with us for their breeding season and will soon be leaving to complete their year out at sea before returning to us next March/April.
Many of our visitors ask when these fishing marvels will leave us and we've often replied "mid-July"...And here we are half way through the month so these really are the last few days to catch the noisey little fellows.
There are still 'jumplings' dotted around the cliffs, much to the delight of the onlooking Ravens, and we expect the young Kittiwake and Fulmar to stay with us a little while longer...
Although we can't give you a definitive count for all the breeding pairs, we can confirm that five of the reserves pairs of Chough have managed to fledge twelve juveniles between them! That's not to say that the other six breeding pairs have failed to fledge young, just that it is increasingly difficult to see which juveniles have come from which parents! Whilst we ring juvenile Chough to keep an eye on them throughout their lives, we cannot access all of the nests and this is where some confusion arises. I can say that we see plenty of juveniles around so we would hope that the success of the five aforementioned pairs has been replicated by the remaining six pairs.
Please do come and say hello when you visit, as did our juggling South Stack fan (you know who you are!),
The 16th-31st July is the Butterfly Conservation societies "Big Butterfly Count". We've kicked off the survey on the reserve today as the sunshine has returned! We are providing laminated guides to give visitors a helping hand when it comes to identification. It's a fifteen minute species count that be can be conducted anywhere, whether sat still or walking. To find out more about the event and how simple it is to take part, go to www.bigbutterflycount.org.
Of particular note, the reserve is home to the beautiful Silver-studded Blue, a Welsh sub-species of the variety. We have also recently has visits from the spectacular Hummingbird Hawkmoth, which comes all the way from Africa!
Kelvin, one of our residential volunteers, used today's sunshine to get out and about on the reserve and complete a butterfly survey for himself (he will submit his sightings to the above address). He managed to catch up with a red admiral, meadow brown, three burnet moths and even a silver-studded blue! Another of our residential volunteers, Doug Shapley, took the stunning photograph below. He saw his silver-studded blue on a trip across Holyhead mountain on his day off - so thanks Doug! We also have records from Ken, our local expert and new volunteer. He saw six meadow brown, six-spot burnet, silver-studded blue and a beautiful blue-tailed damselfly.
Hopefully we're in for some more sunny days and we'll see many more beautiful butterflies!