The newsletter of the Bardsey Bird
and Field Observatory
Sef cylchlythyr i aelodau
Gwylfa Maes ac Adar Ynys Enlli
Issue 163 - Spring 2019 Workshop Photo: Bob Normand
The Friends of the Observatory will be having a
63rd Annual General Meeting and Members’ Weekend
The 63rd Annual General Meeting will be held in Prenteg Village Hall – Canolfan
Prenteg, near Tremadog, Porthmadog LL49 9SU at 11am on Saturday 6th July.
This year’s meeting will take the same format as the Stay and have lunch!!
very successful one last year in the form of a Members’ Lunch will be available (for a small charge) from about
Weekend. It will take place over two days: the evening 1.30 pm and you will all be very welcome. We will need
of Friday 5th July, and all of Saturday 6th July, with to have an idea of numbers in advance for catering, so
plenty of opportunity to communicate informally with please email Alicia beforehand to let her know if you will
staff and Trustees. be attending – see below.
This is a formula that works very successfully for the Talks
British Bird Observatories Council meetings, as some of After lunch, there will be an illustrated talk by Steve
the business can be continued more informally after the Stansfield our Warden and Director of Operations about
meetings and ideas progressed further; also, it creates his trip to the International Bird Observatories
an agreeable social environment and gives everyone an Conference in Israel in March.
opportunity to put ideas forward in an informal way.
Itinerary There will then be further opportunity to chat over a
cream tea. Again, please you could let Alicia know if you
Evening meal will be attending for the cream tea in advance – the
We will begin the weekend on the Friday evening, when scones are delicious!
we hope to meet up and go for a meal in a local pub,
possibly the Ship Inn on Lombard Street, Porthmadog. Ospreys
If you can let Dianne know in advance, then she can We then hope to have a wander down to the nearby
book tables. This will give us plenty of time to meet up Osprey Nesting site at Pont Croesor.
and chat before the meeting on Saturday. Several of us
will be staying in the Travelodge in Porthmadog too, and Evening meal
as we are staying locally, we will all arrive refreshed On Saturday evening, several members of the Trustee
rather than having driven for several hours! Board and the Advisory Council along with our Director
of operations and Observatory Warden, Steve, will be
AGM heading off for an evening meal in the locality.
We would like to encourage as many of you as possible
to attend on Saturday. We will be starting the AGM (our Why not join us? Again, please let Dianne know ASAP
official part of the weekend) at 11am, and not in the so we can arrange numbers and book a table.
afternoon as we have done before. The business part If anyone is staying over on Saturday night, which a
of the meeting should be over by about 12 pm, leaving number of our members often do, then there is
us time to catch up and socialise before lunch. opportunity for you to either make plans yourselves to
meet up together on Sunday, or to go and do a bit of
The Bardsey Beacon is the newsletter of the Friends of Bardsey Bird and Field
Observatory. All pictures by Steve Stansfield unless otherwise stated
Registered Charity No. 249790.
The Observatory is a member of the Bird Observatories Council
local birding, walking or sight-seeing before heading off BOOKING NEWS
home. Just a few quick words to let you all know that there
are still a few vacancies in the following weeks,
We hope that this will make for an inclusive, enjoyable commencing on a Saturday:
and worthwhile weekend for everyone and encourage June 1st and 8th
many of you to join us who may not have done so before July 13th and 27th
or for some time. August 31st
There are also vacancies throughout September and
Please book your meals: October.
If you are interested in booking an evening meal on There is also a possibility that a part week, starting on
either the Friday or Saturday evenings, please let Steve a Saturday, may be available in some weeks but
know by 15 June - [email protected] – Please put please contact the bookings administrator before
“MEMBERS WEEKEND” in the title of your email so it sending in a form.
does not get lost in the plethora of emails being sent to
me each day. Inaugural Meeting of the ‘Friends of
Bardsey Observatory’ 19 January
Please email Alicia ASAP beforehand to book your 2019
lunch and/or cream tea, and to let her know about any
special dietary requirements - [email protected] Denise Healey
Booking your stay at the Obs: Didn’t we have a lovely time
Going digital! the day we went to Penkridge?
Alicia Normand On the face of it, the third Saturday in January did not
appear to be the obvious choice when contemplating
Important information regarding all future the launch of a new initiative. Undeterred, Andy
bookings. Lawrence, Hon. Secretary and other BBFO trustees
From 2019 the bookings administrator may be away adopted a ‘can do’ attitude, booking the venue and
for prolonged periods of time, therefore we are making advertising the inaugural meeting of the ‘Friends of
some changes to the current system. We are moving Bardsey Observatory’ in the winter edition of the
towards a completely digital system in order to ensure Bardsey Beacon.
that your booking goes smoothly. Bardsey draws together people from all over the British
Isles. Would anybody want to come? Would the bad
PREFERRED METHOD FOR BOOKING weather hold off? Well yes; they did want to come and
By email: please use [email protected] and not my the weather on the day was dry and mild. Thirty-two
personal email address. old friends and a few would-be friends gathered
together to renew old friendships and enjoy an
Please pay by bank transfer: informative and fun day.
David Hawkins, our President, extended a warm
Barclays Bank welcome to everyone. It was particularly heart-
Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory warming to see Jack Bradbury with his Mum, a young
A/C: 40088277 birder of the future. They helped to bring the average
Sort code: 20-97-78 age of the audience down considerably.
Roger Broadbent, present Chairperson of the West
When using a transfer please let me know the date Midlands Bird Club introduced himself and reminded
and amount you are sending and use ACC and your us of the long association between the WMBC and
name as the reference. Bardsey Observatory. Many of us did not know Mr.
Broadbent and it was heartening to hear that the
DON’T WORRY! connection between the two organisations was still
o For those of you who cannot use a digital With the aid of a Power Point Presentation Andy
method you can still send your booking by Lawrence reminded the audience why they like going
post. But it is essential to address the to Bardsey and enchanted would-be visitors with views
envelope using the words “The from the Island. Mindful of the long-term association
Bookings Administrator” to ensure between the majority of the audience and Bardsey it
that it can be forwarded to the was inevitable that many interesting and some
correct location for confirmation. downright funny experiences were shared. The
morning ended on a high and we were treated to a
o Cheques should be made out to BBFO. spectacular buffet lunch prepared by Alicia Normand,
Annie West and their helpers.
As lunch time came to a close we reluctantly ended
our conversations. Our Chair, Dianne Charles invited
us to share our ideas on promoting the observatory,
increasing awareness and offering assistance with Richard could just walk but usually came up the steep
fundraising and practical help on the island. A lively path on hands and knees wanting to ‘help’ although
exchange of views and ideas were put forward this took me twice as long! By the well is a small
particularly with regard to attracting the younger grassy plateau surrounded by low gorse bushes where
generation and our relationship with the Bardsey I spread the rinsed clothes as was the custom. In
Island Trust. spring the mountain around us would burst into a
Joan James drew our attention to the need to use the golden mass of gorse giving way later to foxgloves and
Welsh language as well as English on our literature. young green bracken, by autumn the colours changing
Many fresh ideas were expounded and no doubt the to purple heather and the rust of dying bracken.
Trustees will examine them in the months to come.
The final event of the day was an interesting and
entertaining talk by Bob Normand on photography but
not until he presided over the calling of the Raffle. We
were treated to stunning pictures of Bardsey, its wildlife
and further afield.
All good things must come to an end and 4.00pm
came all too soon for most of us. The general feeling
was that a good day had been had by all.
Many thanks to everyone who worked hard to make it
successful and roll on the next meeting. See you there!
Recollections of Ynys Enlli Cristin Isaf patched up
Washing finished we could spend some to listen to the
By Audrey Till seals singing and barking on Careg-yr-Honwy.
As it was customary to leave the clothes out overnight,
In 1953 when BBFO came into being in Cristin Isaf, collecting them after the morning dew had dried off,
Audrey Aylmer (formerly Till) lived in Cristin Uchaf there was a load to carry down after giving everything
(now the North half of the Obs.). She was the wife a good shake.
of one of the lighthouse keepers, Alan Till. It was disconcerting after heating the flat iron in the fire
Joan James went to Cornwall to meet Audrey, who to hear a crunch and find an ironed earwig!
said she would write about her time on Bardsey. The range was rather rusty. The oven was at the side
This is the second part of Audrey’s Bardsey of the main fire with its own system of firebox, dampers
memories. Many thanks to Joan James for sending and flues. It had holes which needed plugging with
us another fascinating piece. clay to get it hot.
It was very temperamental and only went when the
It was not long before we settled into our new life. wind was in the right direction. We had a goose for our
Priority was given to blocking up the holes in the Christmas dinner and once the oven really got going I
bedroom floorboards and setting mouse traps. had to cook the goose with the oven door open!
Stripping the walls of old wallpaper, which didn’t take Everyone had their own piles of driftwood which was
much doing as it was mainly hanging off and the used to supplement coal which was costly and difficult
spiders had to find new homes. The house had been to transport. There were patches of gorse on the
empty for a few years. mountain above the house which were ‘fired’ in turn
Without a laid-on water supply and electricity, under control.
everyday living took a little longer but it was soon easy It was then easy to gather the branches which were
to get into a daily routine. Although the spring days free from prickles to use for firewood.
were lengthening, I trimmed the wicks and filled the With these cooking arrangements it was much easier
lamps and stove every morning so as not to be caught and quicker to use the Valor paraffin oven and also the
out at night without a light. Primus which was very good for using with the
After the restrictions of living in ‘rooms with shared pressure cooker which was so handy for vegetables
kitchen and no bathroom’ it was bliss to have our own and stews.
space with freedom for Richard to explore. At that age The rabbits were very plentiful in season, (this was
he was into everything but fortunately still had a before myxomatosis arrived), also during the migration
morning sleep and I used that time to fetch the water, periods there were so many bird casualties each night
bring in firewood and do washing which meant lighting at the lighthouse I made casseroles just using the
a fire in the old range and boiling water in a metal breasts of the small birds.
bucket. Then washing the clothes by hand in a It was pitiful to see so many beautiful birds in their
galvanized tub set up in the back kitchen. prime, having made their perilous long journeys to end
We soon set up a tin bath outside the back door to up like this. But rationing was still on and at least we
catch rainwater from the roof which saved bringing were not wasting them.
water from the well for washing.
However, in fine weather I carried the washed clothes
for rinsing up the mountain to draw water from the
lovely old well, hollowed in rock and fringed with ferns.
windows, no one being there, and the frieze was still
Richard with his rabbit Richard at the back of Cristin
The Valor cooker was very good and cooked well – Alan was able to come on every third afternoon after
BUT--it needed constant watching as it had a tendency the morning watch and we were able to start clearing
to ‘smoke’ however carefully the wicks were trimmed the garden of brambles and eventually had an area at
or from a draught. If left on its own for long one could the top for some flowers and the main plot for
come into a kitchen completely covered in a greasy vegetables. At the top of the Cristin Uchaf back garden
black ‘smoor’ of ‘lamp black’ over everything which was a sycamore tree which at some time had been
took ages to clean. The Aladdin lamp also had to be coppiced and had now grown several branches. This
watched as the mantle was very fragile and that could was by the boundary wall. We had made a path up
‘smoke’. Looking back now I wonder we never had a through the brambles and this was a wonderful place
fire! These were only occasional minor irritations and for Richard to have a little ‘camp’.
were soon overcome. Alan was able to have a month off duty when it was his
turn and the relief boat had come with the keeper to
take over from him. We were able to do much more to
the house and garden and also had time to explore the
island. Then one morning as I went to go up to the
well, I was surprised to see a tent pitched on the grass
behind the Cristin farm buildings! Eventually the
occupants came around to the house and we were
able to meet Bill and Penny Condry who had come
over the previous evening and were hoping to see if
there was a possibility of setting up a Bird Observatory
on the island!!
Richard with the Evans’ corgi and pet lamb
We were gradually cleaning and painting the rooms. The Obs today. Pic: Peter Howlett
One evening as soon as Richard was in bed, I painted
the tiled floor of the living room with red tile paint -
guaranteed to be ‘quick drying.’ By now he could climb
out of a cot so was in a bed and although an early riser
I hoped to catch him before he ventured downstairs.
However, he woke really early and instead of coming
into see me he went down and walked across the
tacky red paint and then came back upstairs leaving
red footmarks on the staircase.
I had some trouble getting the paint off of him and left
his footmarks on the stairs.
Once we had stripped the walls of the parlour and
distempered the walls it was a very comfortable room
and was very warm in the winter with the fire burning
well. We were able to have shelves for our books. The
lighthouse keepers from time to time had been given a
lot of ‘glossy’ magazines with good pictures of scenery,
wildlife, historic houses etc. and I was able to make a
frieze of pictures pasted around the walls.
In the 1970s my daughter Cristin and I were able to
make a day visit and were able to look through the
Warden’s Ramblings Observatory! Yes, we saw the bird, but it was meeting
up with friends that was the best part of the day.
Steve Stansfield – BBFO Director of Operations Emma, Connor and I headed to our place in Norfolk for
Apologies from me for the tardiness of this edition of the two weeks where work continued (though we managed
Bardsey Beacon. Can I welcome everyone to 2019 and to see King Eider and Pallid Swift on shopping trips to
wish you all a somewhat belated Happy New Year. Tesco and Morrisons!!), before heading back to the
We are a little behind this spring for various reasons, Midlands to interview candidates for the Assistants
some of which will become evident as you read on. posts. We interviewed the applicants at the RSPB
Well let’s press on; I finished my last Beacon by saying centre at Sandwell Valley. A few days later we were
goodbye to Ephraim and Billy, I will begin this new one pleased to offer the posts to Sam Prettyman from
by saying Hello to Sam and Lewis! Short introductory Sheffield and Lewis Hooper from Hampshire.
pieces by both Lewis and Sam will appear later in the
newsletter We then headed back to Norfolk until just before
Winter was a very busy one for myself and Emma (and Christmas, as we were spending Christmas with
Connor continued his A Level studies wherever we Emma’s mum in Southport. Unfortunately, just after
were!) Christmas we all got Flu and were very ill. I had never
We left the island on 7 November 2018 and all headed felt so ill, ever! I thought I had had flu before, but I think
our separate ways, our first stop was Llandudno on our now, they had just been bad colds, this was the real deal
way to Southport to see a Rose-coloured Starling (Yes, and after nine days in bed we finally managed to get the
I am still a twitcher deep inside!!). After arriving at energy to move. So about ten days later than planned
Southport, I heard news of a male Pied Wheatear on the we headed back to Norfolk to continue working on
Wirral. reports, put the BOC Newsletter together (which is
available at http://anyflip.com/bookcase/dpyt or here
Pied Wheatear above and Bardsey Volunteers out BOC News Bookcase) and to get ready for the BOC
twitching below Meeting at the BTO HQ in Thetford on the 1st of
Brilliant BOC Meeting
The BOC meeting was very productive and very large
with some 42 delegates, including representatives from
18 of the 20 bird observatories within the UK, many BTO
staff members, a Finnish observatory representative
there to learn more about how British Bird
Observatories operate, as well as skype attendances
from Alderney and Long Point in Canada, and we were
pleased to meet up with some old Bardsey faces many
of you will recognise: Pete Howlett (former chair of
BBFO) Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle (now Wardens
of Skokholm Bird Observatory), Steffan Walton (now
Warden of Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory), and Mike
Archer (vice president of BBFO). See pic below.
A few phone calls later, and I had arranged to meet up As Chairman of the BOC I am tasked with keeping the
the following day with many of Bardsey’s Wirral meeting under control, running smoothly and managing
contingent – Elliot Montieth, Steve Hinde, and Rob and to fit a massive agenda into an eight-hour meeting. Well
Fiona Bithell, as well as many members of Hilbre Bird we did it, running over by just ten minutes. We
discussed the new Observatory on Alderney, we had
discussion based around Safeguarding and there was
discussion surrounding the BTO/BOC Agreement and
MOU and the BOC Constitution. I reported on our
Feather Sampling project with Dave Leech, head of
ringing at the BTO, and then our Vice President, Mike
Archer, and I presented a report on the Young Bird BOC attendees at the BTO HQ (the Nunnery)
Observatories Volunteer program which BBFO is very
heavily involved in. There was an update on BirdTrack here for anyone who is interested.
from Scott Mayson from the BTO, who began his http://tiny.cc/2018_BBFO_Report_to_NRW
speech by announcing that all the Bardsey data from
1953 to the end of 2018 had now been sent to the BTO Around this time, I also started organising a special
for upload onto BirdTrack. Simon Gillings from the BTO week with BTO Wales for young birders to be held over
gave a presentation on Nocturnal sound recording and the Easter holidays. This week was to be funded by the
Promoting the collection of standardised nocturnal flight BTO and we invited four Welsh universities with BTO
call data – a project that the BBFO trustees have agreed ambassadors to send students with an interest in
that we could buy the equipment for and take part in. wildlife, primarily birds, to the Lodge (more about this
We then had a presentation from Paul Stancliffe from later!)
the BTO, Rob Adams (Chair Spurn BO) and Stu
McKenzie (Long Point BO, Canada) on Bird Tracking Before the meeting of the Trustees in February, I
Technology on a possible MOTUS project – see later… worked on full job specs for the two new Assistants and
their respective contracts along with Dianne, and we
Following the Bardsey Bird and presented these to the Trustees for approval. I also
BOC meeting it worked on putting various Policy Documents together
Field Observatory that Peter Howlett had started work on some time ago.
was back to We now have contemporary policies on Safeguarding,
Volunteering, Risk, Complaints, Investments, Conflict of
Owlwood in Report on work funded by Interest etc. These policies were circulated to the
Trustees and were adopted at the meeting on 17th
Norfolk for a Natural Resources Wales February.
couple of weeks Section 16 Management Agreement More meetings and talks
Emma and I attended the Trustees meeting in the
for me to prepare Midlands on 17 February having had a meeting with
Dianne (BBFO’s Chair) on 16th February to work
for the next through the year’s plan. Immediately following the
meeting, we were on the road again to take Connor to
meeting and my Mum and Dad’s and then Emma and I headed off to
Bristol to give a talk to another BOC, this time the Bristol
continue working Ornithological Club. We stayed with our friends and
BBFO members William and Martha Earp, and were
on the Report for given a lovely warm welcome and a tour of Bristol and
the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the afternoon: very fine
Natural and impressive structure! At 7.30 I began my talk about
Bardsey and the work of the Observatory to a packed
Wales. This 148-
page report, 2018
amount of the
monitoring and 1
that BBFO gets paid for, does not generally get
circulated, but this takes up quite a large amount of my
time in the winter months. A link to the report is available
house of about 100 people. It was very nice to see Brian Emma managed things on the island while I did some
Thompson there in the crowd. The talk went down very staff management remotely for the first few weeks of the
season, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able
well, and we hope to get some bookings from it! to see around the Lodge and direct works that needed
undertaking! The Lodge had stood up to the winter fairly
well, but much work was needed to get it up and
running. Lynda and Mike cracked on with putting the
bedrooms back together as well as cleaning, painting
and repair work before departing after a week of hard
work. Connor dealt with many of the practical things
such as the generator and lighting gas freezers, internet
and I.T. issues etc. and Sam and Emma set about
cleaning, clearing, scraping flaky paint from walls and
re-painting. The dining room looks at its best ever now,
though the going was slowed due to being two members
of staff down as Lewis was unable to join them due to
illness and I was staying on the mainland continuing to
work on the annual report.
Steve and Emma, with Martha and William in Bristol For me there was time for one more meeting, this time
at Spurn Bird Observatory. The meeting was about
Emma and I headed back to Norfolk for one last time to another exciting new project using a radio transmitting
get the house ready for lettings this summer. I continued system called MOTUS (See Motus.org). The project
to work on the Annual Report and Emma did lots of work (Project Yellow-browed), intends to try and track some
in the garden and a very deep spring clean. It was then of our migrant species more closely than we can with
time to head back north and westwards, with Emma and ringing. We are hoping to be able to join forces with
Connor heading to Bardsey, and me heading to Observatories across Europe who are already using the
Yorkshire! technology, and many of the British Observatories have
declared an interest, including BBFO. Alison Hill and I
Back to Bardsey and beyond have just presented a grant Application to the Trustees
Emma and Connor, along with new Assistant Sam and for approval and we hope that before too long BBFO will
two volunteers, Lynda Roberts (pictured below cleaning be part of a global network of MOTUS receivers.
dishes for the start of the season!) and Mike Smart Following the meeting, it was time to get ready to fly!!
crossed to the island on the 18th of March. Also arriving
around this time was an all-new cast for the island and IBOC 2019
there was a real buzz with two brand new assistants for So why was I on the mainland whilst the others were
the observatory, new Bardsey Island Trust Wardens painting and scrubbing the Lodge? Well, I was attending
Ned and Sophie and their children for the first part of the the third International Bird Observatories Conference in
year, and Gareth and Meriel Roberts from Cwrt moving Eilat in Israel, representing both Bardsey, and the
to the island to live in Tŷ Pellaf to farm the island this British Bird Observatories Council. I joined Peter
year. They have also extended the café at Tŷ Pellaf (see Howlett, and members of the Spurn Bird Obs
later). committee, including their Chairman Rob Adams to
travel with, and met up with staff from several other
British Observatories at the Conference.
Lynda scrubbing dishes I headed off to Luton and met up with the rest of the
team and flew out to Tel Aviv. The conference was held
in a quite swanky hotel on the coast of the Red Sea.
Peter and I stayed in much cheaper accommodation
nearby and walked to the conference venue.
Before the conference we had time to do some birding
in Israel, staying at the Jordan Valley Bird Observatory
on our first night. We were treated the following morning
to some spectacular migration, with thousands of kites,
eagles and storks migrating north.
Later in the day we headed south along the The Conference began in the afternoon with several
Israel/Jordan border, along the dead sea to the city of introductory presentations including 25 years at
Eilat. Jerusalem Bird Observatory.
Steve on the shore of the Dead Sea We were then given lectures on a wide variety of topics
The next morning we were birding again and witnessed from practical conservation, monitoring using
some great migration of passerines, with the likes of technology, and how to determine if your Observatory is
Rüppell’s Warblers, Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers and a success.
Eastern Orphean Warblers (picture below) amongst the
resident species like Little Green Bee-eaters and One thing that came from the conference is that the
Arabian Bablers. US/Canadian Observatories are VERY wealthy, and as
such are able to undertake much of the expensive
Eastern Orphean Warblers migration studies using satellite tags etc without batting
an eyelid. There were several tech firms present too
showing off their wares, satellite tag, geolocators etc. I
presented a hypothetical potential project to one of the
tech companies about tagging around 40 Manxies. We
came up with a tech solution, where we could deploy
tags on the birds for several years, and the data are
automatically downloaded when the birds come back to
the island. The guy told me that it would not be an
expensive project as the tags are quite small and
basic… the total cost would be €40,000 !!!!! you could
have knocked me down with a feather. Some of the
European Observatories and the US ones are using this
amount of money for tech annually and are managing
to find independent sponsors to help with the funding.
We are hopefully over the coming months and years
going to be looking at finding funding to be able to take
part in such projects.
So, back to the UK, and it was a dash across from
Rotherham to Bardsey and back to work straight away,
finishing off painting and cleaning and getting the Lodge
ready for the first guests.
British Observatories were well represented Emma painting the Boot Room (above) and the
Common Room ready for its first guests of the year
There was a huge programme at the Conference, and I (below).
could write forever about the presentations I saw… you
will have to come to the AGM to see my presentation in
We had one final day in Israel and then a very long day
getting up at 3am (2am equivalent in the UK) and
travelling through the Negev back to Tel Aviv to fly
The Negev Desert We just about did it, painting the boot room, including
the floor, just days before the first guests arrived.
I eventually got back to Rotherham at 11.30pm, some
20 hours later!! Bird of the trip for me was probably Little
Green Bee-eater, not because it was a new bird (I had
seen them in UAE), but because they are so smart!
Little Green Bee-eater
North Double – ready for guests as ‘Bun’, Paddy Jenks’ young son who lived at the
Observatory when Paddy was Warden and regular
visitor to the island since. Now married and getting
older, he decided that he would like to spend his
birthday on the island, the only snag was the party was
fancy dress, and a Game of Thrones theme… with little
notice we did our best, and for those GOT fans out there
Emma went as Arya Stark and Connor as John Snow –
The bearded ‘Dothraki warrior’ to the left of Connor
(below) is Myles (Bun).
Within days of arriving back we were being filmed by the
BBC for a program which will go out on BBC1 at 7.30pm
Joint University Young Birders’ Week White walker, Dothraki Warrior, John Snow and
The following week of 20th April, saw the arrival of nine
students from Aberystwyth, Swansea and Bangor And finally, in mid-April Connor turned 17; you have
universities. The week, as mentioned previously was seen pictures of him since he was a baby, and now a
part funded by the BTO and The Willis Trust, and very strong and helpful young man, he is an asset to the
intended to introduce young birders to Observatory Observatory, and I (proud father moment) would like to
work, very similar to our acclaimed Young Birders’ thank him for all his help getting the Observatory ready
Week which we have run since 2014. The week was a and the stuff he does behind the scenes helping me
great success, even though the weather was somewhat and Emma keep the Lodge and Observatory running
mixed, with sun burn and Ice creams served at Tŷ Pellaf smoothly. For his birthday we bought him a new double
cafe in the first half of the week and very poor at the end bed as he has out-grown his small cabin bed, and at the
of the week with Storm Hannah causing the boat to be same time we have given his room a complete
delayed by one day. The students, all aged 18-25 and makeover, painting and adding new 12v lights and
all living in Wales (part of the funding requirements) had charging ports near his desk.
a great time, ringing Manxies, Whimbrel, seeing new
birds such as Pomarine Skua, Storm Petrel, Wood
Warbler and Osprey, and seeing some great migration,
including hundreds of Whimbrels, Willow Warblers and
some Grasshopper Warblers. We had the usual bird
race and quiz, with Sam and Lewis being team captains
(team Lewis won the Bird Race and Team Sam won the
quiz). Other events included a belly filling Chilli night,
talks about the work of the Observatory, and the
Champions of the Flyway Bird race and we had the
students helping find nests, seawatching, teaching them
about feather tracts and bird Identification and much
more…all in all a great, but somewhat exhausting week!
Students looking at Small Adders Tongue Ferns Connor with his ‘Custard Cream’ Cake
above and out nest finding below
As happens at the beginning of many seasons,
During the same week we were invited to Myles Jenks’ machinery and equipment that has become old and has
30th birthday party. Many of you will remember Myles then stood over-winter eventually dies. We had the 14-
year-old gas freezer up and running from the start of the
season, but it suddenly died and began to warm up our
frozen food. Thankfully we were able to stash some in
the Lodge freezers and some at Tŷ Pellaf, thanks to
Gareth and Meriel. As a result, we ordered a new
electric freezer which is running from batteries and will
eventually save money as we will not be buying gas to
run it, in the same way as we bought a new electric
fridge for our barn last summer. During the year we
intend to replace the gas fridges in the Observatory with
electric powered ones and install solar panels to run
We also had our strimmer break down (well blow up!)
on us so we had to replace that too. Over the winter the
Observatory Laptop which I use to do all my work and
produce all the newsletters and reports on literally fried
the hard drive! We decided that it was time to get a new
one and Dianne agreed to me getting a top spec
MacBook Pro, which I managed to get at an extremely
New for 2019
We have a pub!!! Well Gareth at Tŷ Pellaf has a licence Sam Prettyman
to sell alcohol. The café at Tŷ Pellaf has now expanded
and is open all day every day. There is a wide selection covers South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. I also enjoy
of wines, spirits and local beers on offer, locally made SCAN and Humber Wader Ringing Group sessions, for
Ice creams, homemade cakes and scones and there will both mist-netting and cannon-netting waders and
be cheese and wine evenings, and meals available as wildfowl.
well as bacon butties and (later in the year) ‘home-
grown’ sausage sandwiches!
Emma has also gone into the crab production business. I spent six months as an Intern Warden at RSPB Old
Moor, a top place and my favourite reserve! I learned a
Freshly cooked and dressed crabs are available during lot about reserve management here, and it’s also where
my interest in bird ringing started after watching a Sand
the year, and if fresh ones are not available or we are Martin pulli ringing session. As well as this, I have spent
a year in Madagascar, and several months in Costa
not on the island frozen ones will be. They are Rica and Bolivia carrying out various animal and plant
absolutely delicious and don’t get any fresher and more surveys. I’m looking forward to life and work on
Bardsey, working with seabirds is one of the main
local than these! appeals for me, but I’m also hoping to see some rarities
while I’m there!
I’m Lewis Hooper, I am 22 years old and from
Hampshire. I graduated from Derby University in 2017
Meet the new Staff for 2019
Hi I'm Sam Prettyman, I am from Sheffield and have
been interested in zoology from a very young age, but
became particularly interested in birds and birding as a
teenager. I have monitored seabirds at RSPB Bempton
Cliffs, as well as shorebirds at Gibraltar Point NNR. I
have ringed at several observatories around the UK,
mainly Gibraltar Point. However, the vast majority of my
ringing is done with Sorby Breck Ringing Group, which
with a zoology degree where I focused on ornithology. I
started birding more seriously throughout my years at
university. After university I spent a week on the Isle of
May on the young birders’ training course run by the
Scottish Ornithologists' Club, gaining my first taste of
observatory life. I then went onto spend September and
October of 2017 at North Ronaldsay bird observatory
and enjoyed it so much I went back in February 2018
staying the full year, leaving in November. A full year at
a bird observatory is an amazing experience, I was able
to ring over 500 birds including over 100 birds in the
nest, as well as witness some amazing migration
spectacles and be fortunate in finding some rarities.
Bardsey is a new and exciting challenge and I hope to
gain more ringing experience, meet some amazing
people and find a few rarities throughout the year.
Obituary – Greg Poole
Many readers will have already seen obituaries to Greg
Poole, who sadly died in December 2018.
Greg was a talented wildlife artist who was a keen
birdwatcher in his youth. He volunteered at the Obs
during the 1980s. That was where he began to develop
his talent for drawing wildlife.
One of Greg’s sketches during his time on Bardsey. Greg drawing during a ringing session
He travelled widely throughout his life, drawing and
painting as he went. He returned to Bardsey in 2017 as
part of the Flight Lines, a project jointly run with the BTO
and the Society of Wildlife Artists.
His pictures are remarkable, apparently simple but full
of movement, with a clear love of the subjects.
He was a true nature lover and leaves a big gap in
Emma, Kim Atkinson, Greg and Darren Woodhead
outside the Obs shop during the Flight Lines project