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.
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.
We are being treated to a very rare spectacle here at South Stack with the spotted rock rose in flower and looking stunning! This is the county flower of Anglesey and truly a flower to be proud of. June is a good month to see the flower but you need to be here in the mornings otherwise you will miss it! This is because the petals fall off around mid day and can be seen around the base of the plants looking like yellow confetti! The new buds start to unfurl later in the afternoon and are then fully open by the next morning. There are over 2000 plants here on the reserve which can be seen along the coastal path towards North Stack. The plants are quite small and can easily be missed . The flower has 5 yellow petals each with a red spot at the base of the petal. So if you want to see something special come along down to South Stack.
After the storms of last week we are now back to normal weather conditions for June. Lovely sunshine and warm days at the moment here at South Stack. Unfortunately our Razorbill cam was moved slightly by the gales over last weekend and is now not quite central on the Razorbill ledge. Because of the proximity of the camera to the breeding colony we are unable to correct this at the moment , as we don't want to disturb the birds. There is still a good view of the razorbill pair and the chick so please keep watching! The chick is growing fast!
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;