On Friday, we had an unexpected visit from Ian Daniells, a volunteer from Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital in Cheshire. Ian had made the journey to release a Gannet that had blown off course in last week's high winds and ended up in Buxton, Derbyshire! Alongside the Gannet were two juvenile Herring Gulls which had been hand-reared before being collected by the Wildlife Hospital for release.
I was lucky enough to witness all three releases. The Gannet appeared to have suffered no harm from it's diversion and in fact needed some persuasion to leave the box it had been brought over in. Once out in the sea air the Gannet took it's time, looking around and streching it's wings. It was fabulous to see it so close by, I was especially impressed by the 'yellow' head which was both white and yellow at the same time with a sort of irredescence. After a minute the Gannet tucked itself on the far side of a fence before opening up it's glorious wings and flying off over the sea. A wonderful moment to witness and i'm sure it's moments like those that make Ian breathe a sigh of relief.
The Lower Moss Wildlife Hospital was set up by Ray Jackson, now an MBE for his work, and is situated in Ollerton near Knutsford. Ian has been a volunteer at the centre for the past four years and tell of many weird and wonderful visitors, including foxes, badgers, birds of prey and even a Frigate bird! Lower Moss Wildlife Hospital is run on donations from the public, with schemes such as "friends of Lower Moss Wood" to manage and conserve the woodland and an exclusive caravan club which helps to fund the upkeep also. To find out more about the hospital and surrounding woods, or if you want to visit, then please have a look at: www.lowermosswood.org.uk.
Shortly after we released the Gannet down the road at the top of the beach, we came up to the visitor centre to release the two Herring Gulls, one little fellow took to the skies immediately whilst the other took the opportunity to get to know it's surroundings on foot.
Everytime I see a Gannet fly by the lighthouse I now think of how this chappie is getting along and I sincerely hope the three of them have fitted back into the wild perfectly.
I am having issues uploading photographs onto here for you, so in the meantime please check out our facebook group on www.facebook.com/RSPBsouthstack.
Here is Ken Croft's latest write-up:
"The month started with two Green Sandpipers, one of which remained until the 4th, three Spotted Flycatchers were present on the 1st and a juvenile Bullfinch fed with the Linnet flock. The next day new migrants were a Lesser Whitethroat and a Grasshopper Warbler and four Sandwhich Terns fed out beyond the lighthouse. On the 4th a female Marsh Harrier moved over the heathland in the early morning as the female Peregrine watched over her two youngsters sparring in the air over the mountain, the first returning Teal was also seen today. On the 6th, there are now three juvenile Bullfinch with the Linnets, we see the last Sedge Warbler of the year and the first returning Goldcrest. Out on the range the next day two young Sparrowhawks were flexing their wings for the first time with the female parent close-by, the Linnet flock here has increased to 50+ birds.
A welcome north-westerly wind on the 8th brought passing sea-birds close inshore off the Range and in a two hour watch 2127 Manx Shearwater, 52 Gannet. 23 Fulmar, 10 Common Scoter, a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull, 2 Baleric Shearwaters, an Arctic Tern and a Black Guillemot were observed. In similar conditions on the 9th in one hour, 1788 Manx Shearwater plus a Balearic Shearwater, 79 Kittiwake, 86 Gannet, 13 Common Scoter, 2 Sandwich Tern and a Black Guillemot.
2 Greylag Geese dropped in on the 12th, the only sighting of this species this month and another Lesser Whitethroat was the pick of the passerines. A flock of 21 Ravens were soaring and tusseling over the mounatin early on the 15th, two Turnstones were on rocks off the Range and the Linnet flock was now 100+. A large movement of Swallows on the 17th included a small number of House Martins, migrants this day included 6 Whitethroats and 3 Blackcaps, whilst outside the information centre Dunnocks were feeding their 2nd brood and a flock of 16 Chough were in playful mood overhead.
Unusual visitors on the 18th were 2 Little Grebes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker that visited many of the telephone poles. Two fine juvenile Kestrels were in the air, a pair of Stonechats were feeding 3 young again, a 2nd brood which is good news for the species which suffered badly in the very cold winter, 3 Curlews were on the Range. On th 21st 3 Spotted flycatchers were new in, as were 2 Teal and very late in the evening a Barn Owl was seen on the Range.
A flock of 28 Black-headed Gulls flew south past the lighthouse (25th), this species is a scarce visitor here. More movement on the 26th on the Range with at least 10 Whitethroats and a late Grasshopper Warbler plus over 30 Meadow Pipits and 120 Linnets. A new addition to the reserve year-list was a Knot which rested on rocks off the Range on the 29th and migrants this day included Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrest and Spotted Flycatcher. A large movement of Swallows on the 31st also carried Sand Martin and House Martin and in a thermal over Holyhead Mountain soared 3 Buzzards, a Kestrel and a Peregrine. All of this was overshadowed by the sighting of 6 Orca off the range, a magical finish to the month!!"
For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting him, Ken Croft is a local birding expert. The reserve is Ken's local patch and not a lot goes on here without him seeing. Ken had a fantastic day yesterday when he spotted two Buff-breasted Sandpipers out on the Range.
Back in June the new visitor centre at South Stack was descended upon by a gaggle of bikers collectively known as bikers4macmillan. This lovely group of people with a passion for motorbikes arrange events to raise money for the cancer charity Macmillan and this year they did a sponsored sunset to sunrise tour starting from South Stack and finishing in Skegness.
We were happy to publicise and assist with this event not only because Macmillan are such a worthy cause, but also because, as well as RSPB Cymru, they are also in their one hundredth year!
I was pleased yesterday to receive an email from the event organiser, Steve, telling me they have managed to present Macmillan with a cheque for £3650! That equates to 10p a day for everyday that Macmillan have been in operation - wow! Steve was also pleased to tell me that donations are still coming in and that they hope to present around another £1000!
The event will take place next summer, so if you are interested in taking part or want more information please visit www.bikers4macmillan.org.uk.
Great news! x
I have spent the past week at home for my father's 60th birthday celebrations and have been greeted back to the reserve with the strongest south-westerly wind imaginable! Last night, I walked down to the beach at the bottom of the reserve and was held back against the railings of the gate whilst the air filled my lungs in an exhilarating way! I stayed there a while, in awe of mother nature.
I decided that to stay indoors while all this was going on would be a travesty and decided to get up early to go sea-watching with Ken Croft (the local expert and RSPB volunteer I mention frequently). Setting off earlier than I care to mention we parked up at the Breakwater Country Park (which is lovely and sheltered in a south-westerly) and made our way over to North Stack, needless to say we had all the gear on to keep us warm! We found ourselves a sheltered spot and stayed there for about an hour and a half gazing out to the violent sea. I have to admit, I half hoped that we see a pod of Orca (Ken saw six of them last week from the range!), but they never materialised. Instead I was lucky enough to add two birds to my year list; a red-throated diver and a Great Skua, often referred to as a Bonxie. The Bonxie was also a life first for me!
As well as these gems we saw; dozens of Gannets in various stages of development, (speckled youngsters and clearly defined adults), plenty of Manx Shearwaters, a few dozen Fulmar, a handful of Razorbills, a singular Oystercatcher and a fly by from a group of Shags.
A lovely way to spend the early hours I hope you'll agree :)
P.S- I feel I aught to mention the poor Manx Shearwaters that lost their way around Pembrokeshire. Please read this article for more info: http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/9235598.RSPCA_flies_in_to_rescue_hundreds_of_Manx_Shearwaters_blown_off_course/ .