Returning Home

After the winter term at university drew to a close at the end of March, it was time to make the tri-annual pilgrimage from Falmouth back to North Wales – a trek typically drawn out over a rather exhausting 12-hour train journey. I was lucky this time to be able to meet up with some friends in South Wales as a sort of mid-way break, prior to bumbling our way northward via Porthmadog’s bizarre town of Portmeirion on Saturday.

Sunday morning dawned calm and with cobalt-blue skies studded with cumulus clouds: that combination so rare in the winter, making crossings irregular and unpredictable at the best of times! But thankfully springtime often brings with it far more favourable conditions, and so it was that I was able to complete my return across a smooth Bardsey Sound aboard Benlli III. Skimming across the 2-mile stretch of ocean towards the familiar humpbacked silhouette of Ynys Enlli, I always feel so privileged to call this amazing place home.

Ynys Enlli ~ ‘the island in the tides’

I always really look forward to returning to Bardsey – and that’s not just with the thought of seeing my family again! It’s exciting to get out and explore the island’s familiar landscape to discover what changes have taken place in the months since last I tromped about the isle. Early April presents such a plethora of insect, bird and plantlife to add an even greater thrill in arriving back. With such a wealth of wildlife springing up everywhere you look, I have no idea how I’ll be able to focus down on revising and uni work in the coming weeks!

Bumblebee take-off! A pollen-laden Bombus terrestris queen amongst tens of B. lucorum visiting the Pussy Willows

I’ve only been back a few days, and yet there has been so much to see! A bitter northerly wind has put something of a plug in the door of migration with regard to birdlife, but sheltered spots in the sunshine have been awash with insects, fly-catching phylloscopus warblers and even the odd butterfly too. Swallows and Sand Martins have trickled north on a daily basis, no doubt eagerly awaiting the southerly airflow forecast to transpire over the coming days; the scratchy and erratic songs of Wheatears and Stonechats ring out around coastal cliff-tops and banana-yellow gorse patches; the steep cliffs of the East Side are slowly reacquiring their seasonal residents as shuffling stands of Guillemots and Razorbills return to their ledge and boulder nest sites; and the otherwise silent nightscape rings out with the Manx Shearwater’s wailing calls and the Little Owl’s cat-like screech. The diurnal soundscape is currently otherwise dominated by the bleeting of sheep and lambs, as we near the end of Lambing here on the far – over 350 so far!

It’s definitely good to be home.

320A8117 2
pairs of Shags have already completed their hotch-potch nests of sticks and seaweed along the island’s rocky cliffs. Many are incubating their white clutch of eggs, and the adult’s classy quiff will gradually be lost from here on in!
I have had my heath trap out for a few nights, the rewards coming in the form of the usual Hebrew Characters and Common Quakers, alongside a few Early Greys, Mottled Greys and Ichneumon Wasps

It’s been super to catch up with some very smart Wheatears having only glimpsed a couple down on the Lizard in Cornwall this spring. I was surprised to see this pair already prepping their subterranean nest

male Meadow Pipits are song-flighting all around the island, performing their classic parachute-style display in accompaniment with their tumbling high-pitched song
the South End

the island’s withy beds are peppered with bright yellow pussy willows at the moment, providing a veritable feast for a host of pollinators such as Buff-tailed and White-tailed Bumblebees. The diversity of insect life also provides excellent feeding for newly-arrived Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers

a good haul-out of Grey Seals have been lounging on the rocks in the island’s main bay over recent days, although this inquisitive female made for some fun photographs off a more exposed stretch of coast
topmoon4April copy
I spent some of last night with Dad taking a closer look at the superb waxing half-moon through some rather expensive astro gear. This is a stack of shots from a 2-minute video



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