Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer update

As usual, the pace picked up once we returned from holiday and entered the busy visitor season....the last couple of months have flown by as summer activities have occupied most of our time: running the small caffi to supply hot drinks to day visitors, vegetation and habitat monitoring, livestock management and silage making...as well as lots of reunions and catching up with friends and regulars coming to stay on Enlli.  Here are a few highlights:

 Snowdrop continues to grow and be very sociable...as well as naughty!

The wildflowers have been fantastic this summer.  The hayrattle we sowed a few years ago is thriving, and this season has seen a few Ox-eye daisies re-appear in these meadows, having been extinct for 40 years.

Another flower rich meadow - this one with more marshy species, such as this Purple loosestrife

A new bull was brought onto the island, who we have named Tomos

We've had some impressive thunderstorms - here's an spectacular build up of Cumulus nimbus over the mainland.

Some of the poly-tunnel harvest!

 A shearing team from Cwrt managed to shear all 300 ewes in just 5 hours...pretty impressive!

 I've tried to keep up with a steady stream of commissions - this rug was a bit big to wash in the bath, so had to have it's first wash in the sea, followed by a hosepipe to remove the salt water!

...and a commission for 3 mini coracles!

Steve and Gareth managed to get 300 bales of silage harvested, despite various machinery challenges along the way!

Rachel had a fantastic week with the Society for Wildlife Artists on a seabird drawing course based in Aberlady.  The week included a visit to the gannet colony on Bass rock.  The tutors were very inspiring and a huge encouragement.
She has spent the rest of the summer both on Enlli and at Felin Uchaf, volunteering at this amazing  eco-centre near Aberdaron where they have been working on a new building which will host a centre forLiving arts and science.  See  http://www.felinuchaf.org/1/index.html

Another summer highlight was Ben's return from 2 months in Romania with Operation Wallacea where he was leading the bird recording project.  You can read of his experiences soon on his blog at benporterphotography.blogspot.co.uk.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Brief May update

A brief update because we're rushing around getting ready to depart for our annual holiday!  
The island is bursting with colour at the moment with a carpet of Thrift and Squill at the north and south end, hidden patches of bluebells, ragged robin and cuckoo flowers in the wetlands and bird's foot trefoil on the cloddiau.  A film crew led by an Austrian producer who have been documenting the variety of livestock movements and their interactions with wildlife throughout Europe, visited us for the third and last time to capture some of the spring colour - as well as a "staged" lamb rescue from Ogof Hir!

Morwenna returned home after a prolonged visit to the mainland (many thanks to Linda and Richard at Richlin goat farm) along with her newly born kid, Snowdrop.  After a bit of a head butting session with Eira they were glad to be re-united and Snowdrop enjoys a lot of fuss, especially from Steve!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

April – slow spring emergence

This month has felt like a return to winter, with persistent  low temperatures, cold northerly winds and even hail, the only time the island has looked white this winter!

Even Celyn and squill looked sorry for themselves whilst sheltering from a hail storm!

Flower buds of plants like thrift and squill have not dared to open quite yet, while bracken crosiers are just unfurling, albeit slowly.

  Polytunnels are wonderful inventions, and the extra warmth and shelter they provide have helped to get veg seedlings going, whilst the tomatoes are established and growing.

At the beginning of the month it was all hands on deck to help clean up the beaches and fields around the narrows.  With residents and volunteers, a team of about 24 people spent a couple of hours filling 4 tonne dumpy bags with plastic, polystyrene and other bits of rubbish that the tides had dumped on our shores over winter.  A fantastic effort left the island looking clean and cared for, finishing with tea and cake (thanks to Sian and Ben!)

Todd, with an innovative rubbish collecting system
Many hands make light work!

Lambing finally finished on the 23rd April, whilst calving got off to a slow start, picking up a bit towards the end of the month when there were only 6 left to go so we can start looking forward to a break from 3 hourly livestock checks! 

Having said that, we have snatched some fun breaks, both on the sea and in the air (for Steve); and Jo managed a quick sortie up Cnicht with Ben when on the mainland at the end of the month….

Sian, me, Celyn and Squill helping ben check his pots...

A terrible photo, but that spot is Steve!

Walking up Cnicht, and the view down the Croesor valley

We were delighted to get the 135 tractor back, after it’s extended stay on the mainland for a bit of a makeover – it has come back looking very smart and shiny!

I have enjoyed creating a new style of basket, “Enlli pods” and a Rachel style Enlli map has been printed on some tea towels for sale in the shop

After a month of pretty atmospheric skies and mixed weather, we’re looking forward to some spring warmth in May….or is that too much to hope for?!

Some doggie shots.....

Friday, April 1, 2016

March Madness

March began with a spectacular aurora  which Steve managed to capture in a timelapse - here is a screenshot of the amazing display of colour lighting up the night sky:

The first couple of weeks were spent trying to finish all those little jobs that we had meant to do "before lambing starts" - making new compost bins, planting potatoes, chopping wood, burning gorse and getting the shop ready for the new season...

Des Callaghan, a bryophyte expert stayed for a few days to do a survey of the mosses and liverworts on the island.  I really enjoyed being able to spend some time looking at these beautiful plants that are so easily overlooked!  Steve also managed to grab a few days on the mainland - probably his last chance until June!

Lambing started on the 13th March and coincided with some lovely weather, which always helps!  The pace rapidly picked up  and we were joined by a film crew for a few days as they continued to capture scenes of the sheep activity on the island for a programme on Transhumance across Europe.  By the end of the month we had over 300 lambs bouncing around the pastures.

                                Twins number 1
                                Twins number 105

A day visitor found this dead turtle washed up on Honllwyn which was identified as a "Green turtle", apparently only the third for Wales!

Rachel and Ben headed back home, just making it back before the windy Easter weekend - it's  always lovely to have them around (especially when there are lambs to move!)

Despite the cold temperatures clinging on, signs of spring are not far away with shiny yellow celandines and mauve dog-violets brightening up the banks and birdsong filling the air...

Monday, March 7, 2016

Main February Features

February began with a training visit from the very impressive new Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter (now run by the Bristow group). It's always reassuring to know this competent team are not too far away should they be needed!'

It has been a month of very mixed weather, with a couple of relatively short, sharp storms, as well as some more settled spells. At one point we thought the island was just beginning to dry out...that didn't last too long! On the 8th, a combination of big spring tides and gale force winds (steve measured 99mph on the mountain!) created conditions for some pretty spectacular waves which threw quite a lot of beach deposit around the coast.

  Steve has been working on felling a few trees at the east end of the plantation, initially freeing 3 oak trees from being smothered by brambles, and giving them some space and light to grow. The felled Sitka's have been cut into lengths in order to season for fuel, while all the branches were chipped to produce mulch. The plantation is now about 40 years old (the felled trees had about that many rings), which is the typical lifespan for Sitka spruce. two of the 10 felled trees were pretty dead. The plan is to replant new Sitka Spruce in the more open spaces, whilst continuing to fell a few trees each year. This will ensure that there is a sustainable rotation and still leave plenty of habitat for the species that use it, like Fire crests.

Most of the branches were chipped, and several dumpy bags were added to my new "no dig" veg garden as a top mulch:

 I have been continuing to build up stock for the craft shop, and have given the inside a much needed lick of paint. I managed to get to the mainland for a Felting course, concentrating on improving on felt pictures, hopefully capturing some of the seascapes and landscapes of Enlli.

. On my way back I made a detour to visit Rachel and Ben in Falmouth. The fields surrounding their caravan are yellow with daffodils at the moment - here are some of Ben's images: