The team here at South Stack are very excited to announce that the egg from Razorbill cam has hatched!!! Yesterday afternoon, at about 5pm we witnessed the first cracks starting to appear in the egg and this morning we arrived to see a fluffy little addition to the family! Mum (or dad!) started doing a lot of shuffling about and chattering and seemed to be checking the eggs progress often, as those first cracks started to appear.
The egg was laid on 2nd May and was incubated for 34 days. Mum and dad razorbill have worked really hard already and continue to do so now the chick has hatched bringing in sand eels today of which the chick ate 4 a few hours ago!! Where do they put it all?
Razorbills start heading back to South Stack Cliffs at the end of March to check out the nesting grounds and start laying late April, early May. Eggs are incubated for 30-36 days and the chick will spend 17-23 days with the parents at the nest site before heading out to sea with dad.
So, for the next 18 days or so we will have the pleasure of watching our little Razorbill chick as it feeds, grows and starts to explore its surroundings until it finally leaves the nest under dads watchful gaze. As I write this, little chick is tucked safely under a parent’s wing keeping warm. For the first couple of days it will spend most of its time there.
To keep a check on its progress, log on to our website at www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/s/southstackcliffs/ and see the live webcam link!
Before you go!! Help us choose a name for our Razorbill chick by sending your suggestions in to our blog, facebook or twitter pages at;
Several Chough family groups from around the reserve have been seen along the cliff edges having fledged the nests recently. It seems that our Mousetrap pair have only managed to rear one juvenile successfully this year. Despite having 4 healthy chicks in the nest , only one has been observed with the parents over the last few days. Other families have been more successful and we have seen one family with 2 juveniles and one with 3. The young birds have been witnessed begging for food from the parents on the coastal path along by Ellins tower, which is an amazing sight. The mousetrap pair have brought their youngster to feed on the field opposite the visitor centre, encouraging it to feed for itself. It wont be long now before the young birds leave their parents and start to fly round in groups. All the birds are doing well to cope with the unseasonal weather and strong winds that we have been experiencing lately. All around the heathland there are families of smaller birds too. Its lovely to see young stonechats with their feathers all fluffed out!
The seabird colony is at the height of the breeding season now. Many of the guillemots and razorbills have one chick which they are jealously guarding from predators. The parents take it in turns to stay with the chick keeping it safely hidden under their wing, while the other goes off to find sandeels. There is constant activity on the cliff face and on the water as the parents fly off to bring in food supplies. Our razorbill family on the webcam are doing very well. The chick is 17 days old and is growing fast. It has black and white feathers now and has almost lost all of its downy chick fluff! We are expecting the chick to leave the ledge and go into the water during the next few days. The male bird will then stay with the chick and feed it on the water over the next six weeks.
The puffins are nesting on the ledges and burrows on the other side of the main cliff and can be seen most days. Yesterday we were surprised to see two or three puffins on the grassy area near the top of the main cliff, where we could see them clearly from Ellins tower. This is the first time we have been able to see them from the tower, much to everyone's delight! Hopefully they will continue to do this ! So if you want to see a puffin, now is a good time!
On Sunday the 10th of June RSPB South Stack held a special event. The day was staged and managed by Hayley our People Engagement officer and centred around the shearing of sheep and the production of garments from the wool. A large marquee was erected to host the event. These sheep help to manage the reserve, as they are used to graze. Pete the Shepard is employed at various time of year to manage his flock.
First came the preparations.
First and most important. THE LUNCH!
Prepared by Jon our catering manager and his staff. It was a wonderful Hotpot, made using Anglesey Lamb, what else would it be!
Jon cooking the accompaniment
Denise our Warden preparing the coral.
Dani setting up one of the stalls.
Emily giving a hand.
Hayley, Pete the Shepard and Denise, preparing for cricket?
There was a demonstration on the herding of sheep given by Pete our local Shepard. Pete trains sheep dogs for eventual sale. The dog that he used whilst I was watching was Bet. I found it amazing how just one dog managed to round up a group of sheep all by herself. I am sure that all the other observers found it to be the same. The pictures below give some idea just how clever Bet was, and of course the skill involved in training her to this level. What impressed me the most that Pete used mostly whistles and at very low volume
Spectators watching Bet do her stuff.
Pete giving Bet commands.
Look at the tight circle Bet has penned the sheep, this group was directly behind the shepherd.
Next came the sheep shearing.
Our guests eager for a hair cut!
The men shear the sheep.
Spectators and children look on.
The product of their labour!
Next came the preparation of the wool for spinning.
The picture below shows a lady putting the wool through a hand operated Carding machine. This turns the raw wool into a sort of thick rope made of wool.
Next two examples of woollen items made by a sort of pegging process. Please forgive me if I get some of this wrong, it was a lot to take in.
Next came the spinning.
This picture shows one of our volunteers having a go at the spinning process, with a little help from her instructor.
These are the woollen yarns produced,all dyed with natural colouring!
The weaving followed on from the spinning, this is where Hayley had a hands on experience.
All of this took place in the marquee. There were other exhibits as well, there was an environmental stand with an expert available to answer any questions. Haley had an exhibition showing the benefits of becoming a member of the RSPB. This is especially important for children as they are our environmentalists of the future!
Two ladies that I surprised, I had been talking to them previously whilst they were looking at the sea birds from Ellins tower.
We also had a tom-bola for the children.
The day would not be complete for me without a mention of Ellins Tower. This is the best vantage point to see the many thousands of sea birds that come to the reserve each year between March and July to breed.
As I walk from the lower car park I take in the beautiful scenery.
Dani and Emily preparing for our visitors and members of the RSPB.
Below the children's corner where each day there is a fresh wall picture to colour.
Above is a model of the buttress where the sea birds nest. This model allows the children to stick images of the different birds they see from the tower.
Below the magnificent view from the tower.
Our first visitors of the day, this is my Dentist and her children. At first I thought that I had missed my appointment then realised she was only here to show the children the sea birds.
Below Ellins Tower, we have a lot to thank Ellin Stanley for. She gave us this magnificent window into nature!
Lastly but certainly not least I joined onto a nature walk with Denise our site warden as the guide. Denise pointed out many wild species of flowers. I will not include these as the blog is getting rather long and I want to post a separate blog of these and other flowers.
Denise showing us one of the flowers identified.
We are now off to the mountain
We come across North Stack shrouded in sea mist.
It is amazing what you can find on the mountain.
Bye for now, Mel.
I have been taking pictures again of the South Stack flower show. June has produced some new blooms. Most of these I can't identify myself even after consulting Collins flower guide. The flowers that I have taken pictures of are by no means exhaustive of the blooms at South Stack at the moment. The pictures just give a flavour of this beautiful reserve. I suppose our hidden gem is the Spotted Rock Rose. Collins flower guide says "Very rare, Anglesey,Lleyn Peninsula,W Ireland,Channel S,(SW Eurpoe,Mediteranian.) Fls May - Aug". On this basis I would say that we are very lucky to have this flower at South Stack. I spent quite a long tome searching for it but when I eventually caught up with it , the search was certainly worth while.
Spotted Rock Rose
Waiting to open and show itself to us.
I must confess that I was shown this flower whilst on a guided walk with Denise our site Warden. I also found this lovely Orchid.
Following are the remainder of my lucky finds.
I believe this above is the wild Carrot.
Below, the Marsh Orchid.
I also found the Burnet Moth flitting about.
That is all for now; mel
Breaking news this morning as our first chough leaves the nest at 8.30am today. The parent chough was seen preening the chick leading up to the moment when it spread its wings and was off. Our staff are on the look out to see if the young bird made it safely out of the cave. Will keep you informed of developments.