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?
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
The last in a short series of diaries about birds on the reserve from Ken Croft. Hopefully, in the future we'll round of the previous month with one of his summaries..!
"In a month with no real highlights here are the highlights. A Little Grebe dropped in on 30th, Grey Herons were regular visitors, Greylag Geese reached a max of 36 on the 3rd, a Shelduck was seen on the 8th and 8 Common Scoter flew north on the 4th as did 3 Sanderling.
Offshore on the 4th, 13 Sandwich Terns were feeding alongside 7 Arctic Terns and a Common Tern on the 28th was the month's only record for this species. A good count of 16 Puffins were present on the 18th and a group of 7 Feral Pigeons that had strayed into the area were "Peregrined". Only two sightings of Cuckoo this month on 10th & 12th, five Swifts flew over on the 3rd and a single Sand Martin on 29th was this month's only record. The last reported Wheatear was seen on the 3rd, a Grasshopper Warbler was 'reeling' on the 2nd and Spotted Flycatchers were seen up until the 5th. A single Starling on the 22nd was followed by a group of 19 on the 24th feeding on cut silage. 12 Siskin showed well on the 2nd and singles were seen on the 5th and 16th. By the end of the month a flock of 54 Linnets had assembled, Lesser Redpolls were present all month and Reed Buntings began to appear from the 18th onwards.
It has been a very good breeding season and the following species were either feeding young or had fledged young already in the area; Cormorant, Mallard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Woodpigeon, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Linnet."
Hope you have enjoyed these....
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!
Thanks to our local bird-expert I am happy to share with you a retrospective look at the months gone by on the reserve. Here is April's 'birding' summary in the words of Ken Croft:
"The first Swallow arrived on the 2nd along with at least 60 Chiffchaffs and 6 Blackcaps. A late Redwing was in the cafe fields the next day, these fields also produced a Hooded Crow on the 6th and a Snipe the next day. Skylarks were singing on the 9th and passage birds included 14 Wheatear, 10 Willow Warbler and 38 Lesser Redpoll. A male Black Redstart was in the hut circles on the 10th, a Golden Plover on the mountain, Redpoll had increased to 83 and 5 pairs of Stonechat were on territories.
The first Manx Shearwaters of the year off the Range and a breeding plumaged Great Northern Diver was just offshore on the 11th and the first Whitethroat also arrived this day. Two Ring Ouzels were seen on the 17th and the Hooded Crow again made a brief appearance. A male Redstart arrived for a five-day stay on the 18th along with the first Grasshopper Warbler and 14 White Wagtails, a Raven's nest on the Range contained 3 young. More passage was observed the next day with 30 Wheatears, 13 Collared Doves, 2 Tree Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail and a Ring Ouzel. The 20th saw the first Sedge Warbler and there were now 3 Ring Ouzels on the mountain.
Stonechat and Mistlethrush were feeding young on the 21st and at least 10 Grasshopper Warblers were "reeling" in the hut circles area. An arrival of over 100 Meadow Pipits and 50+ Linnets were on the Range on the 22nd, with 4 Skylarks singing high over thier territories. The Range also featured on the 25th with 5 Whimbrel and a pair of Shelduck looking for a Rabbit burrow to nest in..? 3 Red-throated Divers and 3 Common Scoter flew north offshore. A new arrival on the 28th was a Lesser Whitethroat and a Golden Plover dropped-in onto the Range. The year's first Cuckoo announced it's arrival on the 29th and 4 Common Sandpiper made a very brief stop."
Here is a list of arrival dates for our summer migrants:
March 14. Wheatear
23. Sand Martin
24. Chiffchaff. House Martin. Puffin.
29. Willow Warbler
April 2. Swallow. Blackcap.
9. Sandwich Tern. Common Sandpiper.
10. Black Redstart.
11. Manx Shearwater. Whitethroat.
17. Ring Ouzel.
18. Redstart. Grasshopper Warbler.
19. Tree Pipit. Yellow Wagtail.
20. Sedge Warbler.
28. Lesser Whitethroat.
May 3. Whinchat. Hobby.
6. Spotted Flycatcher.
8. Garden Warbler.