Sunday, 27 April 2014


The bluebells are really starting to bloom now, despite the strong breeze you can still get the occasional waft of scent coming from the blooms, before it’s whipped away on the wind.

The path from the Farm to the Garland Stone which runs across the North Valley is currently the best spot for bluebells. Plenty more are starting to come through elsewhere on the island though too.




The Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins are absent from the island at the moment, they often head out to sea for some last minute feeding before laying eggs and breeding. This time it has coincided with some blowy weather which has meant no day visitors to the island, although the boat has managed to land those people staying overnight at the hostel.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Lots of bird photos

After a couple of false starts the seabirds are getting started with their breeding season. The Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins disappeared for a few of days, twice, but now they are back and coming onto the cliffs in good numbers. I am busy going to the different study sites to plot the nests on photographs of the colonies, slowly working out what is where and printing new photos where the cliffs have changed through rock falls and erosion.

The Razorbills are mostly on the cliffs in the morning, so I am trying to get around all the sites early enough to plot them all before they start laying. The Kittiwakes have started nest building too, and at the South Stream site I have managed to get some colour ring combinations too. One of these was from a bird ringed in 2003.

Well, here are some photos from around the island, I make sure I always have my camera with me, despite it all getting a bit heavy at times!

Chough feeding on invertebrates

Sedge Warbler have now arrived for the summer, I heard 3 calling this morning.

Razorbills are getting going on their breeding sites


Female Pied Flycatcher stopping off on the island.

Peregrine flying away with its dinner – a Puffin.

Greater black-backed gulls, I’ll be monitoring their breeding later in the season, and looking at what they’ve been eating too.

Female Reed bunting

Female Reed bunting

Saturday, 19 April 2014

It’s the bank holiday weekend!

The wind is supposed to swing around to the North tomorrow, so there aren’t any boats coming over, what with being a bank holiday weekend it’s been a bit busy.

Puffin count was last night, our second evening of counting puffins across the whole island. Thursday night resulted in 18,237, and last night there were around 4,000 fewer. With individuals coming and going, courting, and feeding that isn’t too surprising.




With all the fine weather we have been enjoying a run of beautiful sunsets. It’s fun trying to get bird silhouettes with the golden sky behind.


20140416-DSC_7504It’s just possible to see some sunspots.


20140419-DSC_7580Puffins are a popular attraction, this one was getting a lot of attention!

20140419-DSC_7585Yachts at the moorings.

On such a beautiful day it’s unsurprising to see some people visiting the island by yacht. The marine nature reserve provides some moorings so that there isn’t any need to anchor which can damage the sea bed. Further into North Haven anchoring is forbidden in order to protect the eel grass beds on the sea floor.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A beautiful day

Wow, what a day! Sunshine, migrants, a spectacular sunset, a beautiful moonrise, and then watching the International Space Station fly overhead too. Just a quick few photos while I have a chance!

20140415-DSC_7293A stunning Ring Ouzel

20140415-DSC_2500Sunset was a stunner

20140415-DSC_2555The moon was spectacular as it rose past the gas terminal

Skomer Island

Having arrived on Skomer on the 11th I have been getting to know the island and the sites that I will be monitoring the seabirds at. The weather has been really kind so far, blue skies and sunshine most of the time, but I’m sure that won’t last!


The night skies have been really clear, the moon has been so bright that a torch was unnecessary! That does mean that the stars aren’t as great as they could be, so I can look forward to some really dark nights with the Milky way.

20140412-DSC_7231The farmhouse where I am living for the summer


Sunrise was a beautiful time to be out on the island with only two other researchers up and about already.

20140414-DSC_7259Sea campion is already in flower in some places around the island

20140414-DSC_7271Sunset from the trig point overlooking the farm


20140414-StarStaX_DSC_2236-DSC_2496_lightenTaken using time-lapse from the kitchen window

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The more pleasant side of Tresco!

Having had the dubious pleasure of exploring Tresco dump I did then get the far more pleasant opportunity to wander through the Abbey gardens, an incredible variety of sub-tropical plants from South America, Mexico, South Africa, the Canaries and Australia.


The latter half winter has been a relentless procession of low pressures pounding the islands, but low and behold it was a beautiful day. Glorious green foliage and brilliant blue skies.

St Mary’s is just visible in the distance.



Plenty of Palms.


The remains of a Red Squirrels dinner

The gardens have recently introduced some Red Squirrels, an interesting idea probably for the benefit of the paying punters and some press rather than any good conservation reason. I only saw a couple of them near the cafe, getting nuts from a feeding station containing hazelnuts, and just below, a very fat rat! There’s evidence on them in a couple of places around the garden where they have been eating the seeds from pine cones.

The St Agnes Lighthouse burner

In the gardens is a museum of ship figureheads, and there with them is the old burner from the St Agnes lighthouse. This fire burnt every single night for 110 years between 1680 and 1790 before being replaced by oil lamps. There must have been a lot coal lifted to the top of the lighthouse to keep it going. The ash was tipped outside the lighthouse and now forms the fertile garden of its current inhabitant.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Visit to Bryher and Tresco

As part of the IOSSRP project a visit was made to Bryher and Tresco to trap some rats for genetic analysis work. Will, Alex and I stayed on Bryher for a week, visiting Tresco each day to check the traps. It was a great chance to visit two more islands and have an explore.

Long-tailed duck

The view from our accommodation at sunrise, looking towards Tresco

The sheltered channel between Bryher and Tresco is perfect for mooring boats in, much of the winter the Agnes boat had to be moored here rather than at St Agnes due to the stormy seas.

20140226-DSC_4481 Panorama
Tresco castle 360 degree view

We got to visit all the best bits of the island, including the dump!

These large concrete bunkers contain food waste, unfortunately the ‘breather holes’ allow rats to run in and out feeding quite happily. The earth banks behind are riddled with rat burrows.

Looking from Tresco to towards Bryher, with Cromwell's castle on the left

Tresco from Bryher

Rat trails running through the grass

Not seen for several months now on St Agnes, rat trails can be seen all over the island running through the grass on Bryher and Tresco.

A lovely rat hole under a compost bin

The design of these compost bins means that rats can burrow into their base and obtain a plentiful supply of food. Part of the IOSSRP project was to provide compost bins and wheelie bins to the residents so that the source of food was removed from the rats. A good compost bin is also a great way of producing compost for the garden.

Rat footprints in the mud on a track

Golden sands on Tresco

There is much more to Tresco than just the gardens. The golden sandy beaches were beautiful, and the northern end of the island is covered in a lovely area of coastal heath. If you’re like me and prefer to be away from crowds of people then summer time might not be the best time to visit, but early spring was lovely and quiet. Photos of the garden next time.