The reserve has changed quite dramtically over the last few weeks; the seabird colony has departed and the cliffs are much quieter, less smelly affair! That's not to say that the reserve isn't teeming with life... the Chough families are busy foraging for insects, the Stonechat broods are confusing all the visitors with their speckled appearance and we have had a couple of unusual visitors; a Hobby last week and a Marsh Harrier this morning!
The summer weather has been fabulous for butterflies and our participation in the 'big butterfly count' was a big success. Many of our visitors saw Silver-studded Blue and Fritillary butterflies and one keen-eyed visitor spotted dozens of the polka-dot, silver winged moth the Orchard Ermine atop a wild carrot plant. Remember that if you took part in the survey, either on the reserve or at home, you still have until the end of August to submit your findings online. Also, if you'd like to find out more about moths then please pop along to our moth event on Friday 19th August, all levels of expertise welcome! Check out this link for more info http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-284619.
The sun has also brought out the snakes and lizards. One lucky visitor to the range part of the reserve actually witnessed an Adder eating a Common Lizard! We're just waiting for him to send in his picture...
The heath is looking phenomenal at the moment in it's shades of lilac, purple and yellow. We will be running some guided walks throughout the rest of the year which are listed online on the South Stack page.
Yesterday we had great views from Ellins Tower of Gannets diving for fish around the Harbour Porpoise that were also fishing off the end of the lighthouse island - it was brilliant!
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Let us know if you see anything interesting...
This is summary of July's birds on the reserve from our resident expert Ken Croft...
"The thriving sea-bird colony gave visitors a spectacular display this month with Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull all frantically flying to and fro' bringing food in to their offspring. Meanwhile offshore, Gannets and Manx Shearwaters were regularly seen and on the 17th a Balearic Shearwater was found amongst the manxies. Common Scoter were also observed passing from mid-month onwards and Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns were all seen fishing offshore in small numbers.
Very few wildfowl records but Mallard and Moorhen both bred, 13 Tufted Duck flew over on the 29th and 9 Greylag Geese arrived on the 31st. Amongst the raptors, Peregrine fledged 2 young and 2 pairs of Kestrel both bred successfully. A movement on the 30th saw a Hobby catching dragonflies over the cafe fields for an hour and 2 Buzzards plus a Sparrowhawk passing through.
A trickle of waders were observed this month with a Lapwing on the 13th, Curlews from the 19th onwards, 5 Snipe on the 27th and 2 Green Sandpipers on the 31st as well as up to 3 Grey Herons. Oystercatcher, Woodpigeon, Skylark and Greenfinch all joined the ever growing list of breeding birds.
A juvenile Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher on the 1st promised much but it wasn't until the last week of the month before any real passage migrants were observed. Good numbers of Swallows were moving form the 20th onwards with a handful of Sand Martins, House Martins and Swifts. Young Willow Warblers and Whitethroats were filtering through the hedgerows, Grasshopper Warblers continued to sing throughout the month and Lesser Redpoll were also regularly seen. In the last few days of the month, Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatchers, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were all recorded."
It may be wet and windy across the UK today, but there is plenty of Wildlife to see in wild Wales!
The recent winds have brought thousands of Manx Shearwaters past the reserve and even the occasional Balearic Shearwater! We've also had numerous Gannets flying by and even diving right in front of Ellins Tower! Usually diving Gannets have also meant surfacing Harbour Porpoise which has had many of the visitors in a whirl of excitement! We're hoping we may have a variety of Skua pass us by too as there were reported sightings of both Long-tailed and Arctic Skua off the north of Anglesey. There's also been an unconfirmed sighting of a Leatherback Turtle just a few bays down, which doesn't sound ludicrous considering the number of Leatherbacks visiting Cardigan Bay this year.
Another nice surprise for the reserve is that we have a healthy population of Hay-scented buckler ferns, 1066 in total, which are only found in one other locality on the island! This really is a gem of a reserve, we have a plant found nowhere else in the world, at least two very rare species of plant, a thriving seabird colony, a successful (and growing!) Chough population, Cetaceans offshore, amazing passage migrants, Lizards, Adders, the list goes on!
So if, when I wake up tomorrow, the sun is not yet shining, at least I know I'll see another wonder of South Stack!