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."
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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Hi guys and gals,
It's fast approaching the end of the summer season here at South Stack, so with only two weeks of residential volunteers left we thought we'd take the opportunity to tell you a little bit about what our volunteers have been up to all summer!
With the opening of our new visitor centre we've needed more help than ever and volunteers Mo and Eveline are now on the shop's rota as it's been all hands to the deck with popularity of our shop and cafe. We've had various events throughout the summer, such as our Centenary birthday party, Puffin Fun Weekend, Springwatch Weekend, Moth Morning, various Guided Walks and a stand at the Anglesey show which have all gone ahead because of the suberb commitment of our local and residential volunteers.
We currently have twelve local volunteers who between them have already given us a staggering 1340 hours this year! That has involved work on opening the new visitor centre, staffing the shop and cafe, people engagement down at Ellin's Tower and also inside the visitor centre and around the reserve.
This morning we waved goodbye to Janet and Sarah which brought us to a grand total of 38 residential volunteers for the summer and still have 4 to come! Wow! Everyone of them has contributed so much to the running of this reserve and therefore the conservation of the wildlife we have here. As well as assisting in the visitor centre and Ellin's Tower our residential volunteers have been involved in event organisation, guided walks, litter picking and general up-keep of the reserve.
Most of our residential volunteers will be applying to return, but there will be some spaces for next summer so if you are interested please see http://www.rspb.org.uk/volunteering/residential.aspx. Also, we're hoping to have some long-term and short-term residential volunteers over the winter this year so please get in touch if that's something that interests you; it's likely that there'll be more outdoors work involved, but it's worth contacting us directly to finalise that.
Massive thanks to all the volunteers who have kept us running this year - we couldn't do it without you!
Kathy and everybody here at South Stack x
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!
It's that time of year again i'm afraid... the nights are drawing in (dark at 9 o'clock last night!) and the Swallows are saying their farewells. This isn't a message of doom and gloom though, it's a celebration of what's been a wonderful summer shared with with my Hirundine friends.
Two years ago, we (by this I mean Dave the site manager and Bill one of our local volunteers) made way for our feathered friends by creating a Swallow Hatch in our old office building. The hatch is perfectly situated as it is in the eaves of our storage area where there is very little disturbance. So, as well as creating a small hatch which we can open up in summer we also have sack-netting to partition off half of the roof (we still use the other half from time to time) and have added ledges for the Swallows to perch on. The hatch was an instant success and there are clearly signs of Swallows inhabiting the loft last year and they were definitly here this year. All that's left now is to clean the protective flooring we've put down so that it's spick-and-span for next years arrivals.
Our first arrivals came on April 4th and throughout the summer we, at the volunteers accomodation, have been serenaded by the returning Swallows and two broods of young. Jenny, one of our residential volunteers, affectionately named some of them after their mid-moult appearance... We had "one tail", "two tail" and "no tail" all pop out and say hello to us from atop the telephone wires in the summer evening sunshine. Their call is like nothing else, they seem to chatter away endlessly with tones that to me sound like dial-up internet. I know that's not very poetic, but I can't describe it any other way!
I was saddened when, on Saturday night, Ken pointed out that they'd gone - it sounds silly that I hadn't noticed, but it wasn't until Ken said that I had even thought about it. It was deadly quiet outside the house and my summer visitors had deserted me.
I was happy to see a few little fellows chasing sandflies on the beach at Porth Dafarch two days later and even more excited when yesterday I heard them chattering overhead near to the house. I ran to keep them in view and I was happy to see them buzzing around the old office with the hatch. One little guy did stop on the hatch entrance, so I paused and thought about how much joy these fellows have bought to me over this summer - thank you Swallows and good luck!