Introducing 30DaysWild

This June I will be joining thousands of other 30DAYSWILD_ID1 blackwildlife enthusiasts across the UK in this year’s #30DaysWild campaign. The aim of 30 Days Wild, championed by the Wildlife Trusts, is to increase the public’s engagement with the natural world. Each day you are encouraged to make space for a bit of time appreciating the wildlife around us, or perhaps even lending it a helping hand by planting a mini wildflower garden, making a bird box or bug hotel, helping out with citizen science projects and much more!

You can find out all about the campaign and the plethora of things people are doing by heading to the Wildlife Trust’s website, and keeping an eye on the #30DaysWild hashtag on twitter.

 

I am really looking forward to the next 30 days: not just being able to spend time exploring the and helping surveys of the island’s wildlife, but also seeing what others get up to across the country.

I’ll be bringing you my 30 Days Wild from Bardsey Island (or Ynys Enlli in Welsh), where I am incredibly lucky to call home. I am so  privileged to be able to but step out of the door and be immersed in a plethora of amazing coastal wildlife, from Choughs calling over my doorstep to falling to sleep to the bizarre sound of Manx Shearwaters crying overhead.

P1040175

I will try and give something of an overview of Bardsey’s rich natural heritage during the next 30 Days through my blog posts. I will also outline the rigorous monitoring work carried out by Bardsey Bird Observatory, the careful management that takes place to achieve a fine balance between farming and conservation, and the elements of the island that make it such a special place to live.

320A5459
The view of Ynys Enlli (‘island in the tides’) from the adjacent mainland, taken prior to returning last week. 

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_01So what did I get up to for day 1 of 30 Days Wild? Well much of the day was spent trying to sort out a backlog of emails, unpacking and organising after returning from university a couple of days ago. I was also kept busy sorting out GPS tags for my dissertation project on Manx Shearwaters – I’ll save that for another blog post!

But it was a beautiful day on the island and there were plenty of things to see and do! Here are some highlights…

I set out my little heath moth trap in my garden overnight, and despite the breezy conditions I was rewarded with a good selection of species: the year’s first Small Elephant Hawkmoth, the stick-like Buff Tip, Turnip Moths and my first Broom Moth of the year…

The superb Small Elephant Hawkmoth is one of the smallest hawkmoth species you’re likely to encounter in the UK, aside the immigrant Hummingbird Hawk of course. This stunning pink species feeds mostly on bedstraws in its larval state, similar to species like the Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Whenever out and about for a walk at the moment, I’m always keeping an eye out for nesting birds: alarm calls, birds carrying food or nesting material, the high-pitched squeaks of chicks…you have to keep your senses keen to hone in on the exact hidden spots of most nests. As part of Bardsey Bird Observatorie’s work on the island, we carry out Nest Recording and pullus ringing throughout the spring to contribute to the nationwide scheme run by the BTO. I’ll describe much more about this scheme in following blog posts…

320A9423
I was suprised to see this male Pied Wagtail gathering some hair from our goats today – most other wagtails on the island already have complete nests with either eggs or chicks. Perhaps they lost their first nest and are recommencing a second brood elsewhere…

I spent a bit of time on the eastern slope of the island late morning watching the hubub activity of the Guillemot and Razorbill colonies…the Guillemots shuffling around their precarious ledges whilst keeping their eggs amazingly flush to the rock; Razorbills tending to already-young chicks amongst boulders, and Shags hissing and uttering croaking calls as they guard their growing young in nests of seaweed, rope and twigs…

 

Whilst wandering about the wetlands not far from my house I came across these three feathers in the grass. They were instantly recognisable as the distinct contour body and primary feathers of a male Cuckoo – a little annoying as I haven’t actually caught up with a Cuckoo on the island yet this year! It was great to add the feathers to my growing collection though!

IMG_9459
Cuckoo feathers

A fantastic surprise whilst eating dinner came in the form of a crackled message across the VHF radio that Sian Stacy (the island’s visitor warden) had spotted a Turtle Dove at the island’s north end…within minutes the bird had bombed south and I darted outside just in time to see it fly over the house and up the mountain.

Turtle Doves just about make an annual appearance on Bardsey, if they manage to dodge the deadly fire of trigger-happy Maltese and europeans whilst passing through the Mediterranean. Sadly this beautiful species is barely seen at some of it’s conventional haunts these days: being on the IUCN redlist of vulnerable species, they have suffered a horrific 91% decline in the UK since 1995, and a 78% decline in the European population since 1980! A large factor contributing to their decline is thought to be the loss of suitable feeding and breeding habitat – a consequence of changing land management across Europe as we convert diverse landscapes into intensive monocultures about as rich as a golf course…it was great to see one nonetheless!

 

 

#
A shot from a few years ago
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s