RSPB NATURE RESERVE
St. Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales
photographs by Janet Baxter
On arrival at Ramsey Island you are met by an RSPB warden in the display room who will give you an introductory talk about the island. You will then be given a small map of the island, you are now free to explore the island at your leisure.
RSPB wardens Greg and Lisa and their sheepdog Dewi live in the Farmhouse on Ramsey Island 12 months of the year. They have a vegetable garden and you will probably meet their chickens feeding around the farmhouse. Greg and Lisa try to get off the island every week to pick up provisions but they do get marooned for weeks at a time during the winter storms.
From April to October they are joined by RSPB volunteers who live in the bungalow on Ramsey for 1 or 2 week periods. The work is never-ending and very varied. During the open season visitors are met on arrival at 10am and 12pm and departures at 12pm and 4pm 7 days a week. In between these times the work must go on. Records are kept of all wildlife, birds, Atlantic grey seals and their pups and harbour porpoise. St. Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Conditions must be perfectly balanced to maintain the very rich bird life on Ramsey and all the wildlife is monitored continually. Grazing animals such as sheep, ponies and deer were introduced onto the island to graze on the various habitats and keep growth under control. At lambing time everyone must muck in. There are dry stone walls and paths to maintain and there is so much more.
by the RSPB in 1992, Ramsey Island is a truly spectacular island nature reserve, lying just one mile off the north Pembrokeshire coast. At
nearly 120m (400 ft) the western cliffs are among the highest in Wales.
They are home to Ravens, Peregrines and Buzzards. In spring,
Guillimots, Razorbills, Fulmars, Kittiwakes and Shags come to nest too.
Choughs also breed on these cliffs, seeking out deep fissures and caves
in which to build their nests.
In August the cliffs empty as the auk chicks head out to the open sea. Now its time for the Atlantic Grey Seals, the largest grey seal breeding population in southern Britain. Several hundred seal pups are born each autumn on Ramsey's beaches and in the caves.
There is a main trail of about 3.5 miles (5.6 km), which can be divided into two loops by taking the shortcut (the shortcut is closed in March-July due to nesting birds in that area).
The southern heathlands are a special combination of heather, gorse and coastal plants. In August they come into their glory, when the heathers and gorse flower together. This habitat is the haunt of Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Skylarks. The summits of Carn Ysgubor and Carn Llundain give splendid views to the mainland, south to Skomer Island and on the clearest of days, west to Ireland. Look out for Wheatears, Pipits and Choughs).
Above, passengers enjoy the view and basic refreshments at the farmhouse on Ramsey Island while they wait for the return of the boat to take them back to the mainland. This is an ideal opportunity to chat with the wardens, you can also become a member of the RSPB while you are here. Ramsey Islands Nature Reserve in St. Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales.